Palm Springs (2020)

Live like there's no tomorrow

https://www.hulu.com/movie/palm-springs-f70dfd4d-dbfb-46b8-abb3-136c841bba11?

When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.

If you've been following me for a while, you know I'm not the biggest fan of rom-coms. It's not that I don't like the genre (I appreciate and enjoy every single one), but I find its movies tremendously difficult to *really* love. The massive majority follow the genre's formulas and cliches to such an extent that I rarely end up truly loving one of these films. Some are way too cheesy. Others are way too unrealistic and dream-like. But the aspect that throws me off the most is the lack of originality. I can't remember the last rom-com I watched that didn't borrow from countless other installments. I didn't know a thing about Palm Springs: no trailers, no knowledge of critics/audience's opinion, nothing... And I'm extremely happy about that!
I usually watch the main trailer for every film I review *after* I've seen the actual movie. I ignore all other trailers, clips, images, and so on. I do this so I can have some sort of knowledge regarding how far I can take my spoiler-free reviews. This way, I'm sure that I don't write about something I shouldn't. The official trailer for this film doesn't ruin the experience in any way, but it does tell its viewers the most relevant aspect of its screenplay. So, I could address it in this review, but I won't... because I enjoyed this movie a lot more, not knowing a thing about it than if I knew how it developed its story.
Therefore, I'll keep it really vague, and just write that Andy Siara's first feature-film screenplay can easily snatch a couple of nominations when the awards season comes around. This is a rom-com like no other due to its refreshingly unique concept. It's true that it's not an entirely new method of storytelling. Many other movies also employ this idea, but Siara holds so many surprises within his narrative and so few of the genre's common traits that the whole film is elevated by his outstanding writing.
It's one of the most entertaining movies of the year. With a short runtime and a fast pace, Palm Springs is constantly being genuinely fun, engaging, and even mysteriously intriguing. Its original plot makes the viewer think and remember previous lines that take a whole different meaning a few minutes later. There are no predictably dumb narrative decisions, and its characters escape the cheesy and forced relationships that these films usually insert them in. The dialogues are hilariously captivating. Almost every single plot point packs an emotional punch, a jaw-dropping revelation that never crossed the viewer's mind.
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti share such great chemistry. Their characters are exceptionally developed, and their relationship feels incredibly real. I'm rarely that viewer who requires the main characters to be together, kiss, fall in love, and all that, but Nyles and Sarah are two wonderful protagonists I can definitely root for. Both carry an interesting "baggage", which is also explored at a deep level. They deal very differently with the "situation" that the story puts them in, and it's so much fun to watch them go through it and evolve as characters. Oh, and J.K. Simmons (Roy)... this man doesn't know how not to be utterly remarkable!
Max Barbakow (directorial debut) demonstrates his talents as well, by allowing Siara's screenplay to shine under impeccable direction. Tonally, it never loses its balance. It keeps its comedy pretty grounded, considering the craziness of its premise. It never relies on the genre's formulas, cliches, and cheesy outcomes. It really separates itself from the majority of modern rom-coms. I don't really have any flaws to point out... The ending does have a "just accept it" narrative component, and there are a couple of unnecessary scenes, but I'm nitpicking here.
I can't believe I'm going to write this, but Palm Springs is not only one of the best rom-coms I've ever seen, but it's also one of the best (if not *the* best) movies of 2020, so far. With the help of their first-time director (Max Barbakow), Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti spread their extraordinary chemistry all over the innovative, original narrative, written by the also debutant, Andy Siara. The latter is undoubtedly the main responsible for such an entertaining film. Siara takes an imaginative concept and develops it in the most captivating, fun, hilarious, and even intriguing way possible. A surprising screenplay packed with emotionally impactful plot points, revelations, and twists that keep the enjoyment levels extremely high. The two protagonists are exceptionally developed, as well as their compelling relationship. With a fast pace and a perfect balance of its tone, Palm Springs sets itself apart from the other movies of the genre, staying away from all of the cliches, formulas, and stereotypes associated with it. J.K. Simmons also lends his awesomeness because why not? Whether you're a fan of rom-coms or not, I definitely suggest giving this one a look. You won't be disappointed!
Rating: A

Limelight, Party Over Here, Neon, The Lonely Island, Culmination Productions by Max Barbakow, Andy Siara.
Stars: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher.

Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

Keywords: swimming pool time loop drug use wedding toast vomiting

07/10/2020

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