Arts & Leisure

It’s a real trip to “Palm Springs”

CRISTIN MILIOTI and Andy Samberg star in “Palm Springs.”

By Jim Tortolano

Contrary to appearances, “Palm Springs” is not just a hipper remake of the Bill Murray classic “Groundhog Day.” While there are some similarities – a romance that blooms for a man (Andy Samberg) who is caught in a mystical time loop – there are enough unique elements to give it its own special charm.

Andy Siara’s screenplay takes us to a wedding in the desert resort town attended by Nyles (Samberg), a free spirit dating a ditzy woman whom we dislike instantly.

He will soon meet Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the alienated maid-of-honor and after some movie-typical mutual repulsion, they attract and she learns what Nyles knows: they are damned to some sort of never-explained quantum anomaly where it’s always November 9.

Here’s where the typical romantic comedy stuff kicks in. They slowly start to like and depend on each other, but with some departures. Unlike Andy McDowell in “Groundhog Day,” who portrays a lovable, intelligent, responsible TV producer, Milioti’s character is a foul-mouthed, round-heeled alcoholic. Her character’s use of the F-word rivals that of Al Pacino in “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

But with appealing honesty and mesmerizing eyes, her performance helps underline the symbolic nature of their dilemma: an unwillingness to change and grow into the kind of people they need to become.

As with “Groundhog,” there are a lot of slapstick suicides as they attempt to somehow break the chains of their stalled lives. There’s a strange subplot – never really explained clearly – in which Nyles is hunted by a bow-and-arrow wielding J.K. Simmons. Also there’s a mysterious cave in the desert that probably represents the need for them to face their future, if you believe in that sort of cinematic metaphor.

“Palm Springs” does not quite have the charming ironic comedy of “Groundhog,” but does add ably to the catalog of literature and film about taking control of your life.

“Palm Spring” is rated R for much, much adult language, sex, nudity, drug use and comedic violence. It’s available on Hulu.

 

 

 

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