Palm Springs, the millennial's take on Groundhog Day, has a solid cast and some decent reviews, so I was hoping it would be a fun-enough comedy. Instead, it's actually a really solid comedy with some surprisingly interesting characters, excellent twists, and a very enjoyable plot. It plays with the time-loop gimmick extremely well, particularly with the use of death as a reset, and the fact that we get multiple characters all looping in their own ways gives the writers loads of fun avenues to explore.
All of this is ultimately taken up a notch by Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J. K. Simmons. As I said, it's a great cast, and each of them knock it out of the park in their own little ways.
I do wish we got to see how Samberg's character ended up stuck in the loop in the first place? I guess it's slightly insinuated that he saw his girlfriend cheating, got drunk, wandered out into the desert and just stumbled into it, but it would have been nice to see. I definitely like that the film starts after he's already gone through a lot of loops, though. Not only does it make the opening sequence – where he gives the perfect speech, avoids every slight accident in perfect choreography, etc. – incredibly fun to watch, but it lets the audience get to grips with the underlying concepts through Milioti instead, whilst Samberg can just verbally fill in the blanks. Plus, it makes the introduction of Simmons character by way of bow and arrow so much funnier 😂
But, still, that question and the slightly weird ending pan to show off the brachiosaurs on the horizon are the two aspects of the time travel shenanigans I don't feel are readily explained. I do have a theory about the sauropods: they were obviously caught in the loop themselves, that was clear the moment they turned up (and I'm really glad this is all the film did with that potential, rather than having historic characters show up; I could see a Night at the Museum style equivalent with famously "lost" people like Amelia Earhart having fallen into the loop), but why are they still around at the end? Well, based on what happens with Simmons, when someone explodes their way out of the loop anyone still left behind will continue looping, yet the escapee's timeline just picks up from where it left off. So the Samberg that Simmons finds at the end hasn't gone into the loop yet at all, and so is no longer affected by it. But Simmon can still interact with him. We also know that a person's loop only resets when they go to sleep and that the sequence of events that happens before you leave the loop is the sequence that everyone else knows, so continuity is preserved for everyone. That means the individual loops are just that: individual. So the sauropods won't restart until they go to sleep, which is why they're still walking around the next day for Samberg and Milioti. At first, I thought they had blown up the loop completely, but if that were the case then Simmons wouldn't still be at the party and the goat would have already freed them all, so it can't be. (This does leave open the question of which party Simmons ends up attending and how that works if he exits the same day differently, but we can chalk that up to need-to-know storytelling and the other two just being a bit dickish to leave him behind in the first place)
All of that aside (😂), the result is a really solid, enjoyable, and funny film with plenty of character and some really nice use of gimmicks. I'd definitely recommend it.