Review by Sean Boelman
Produced by the members of The Lonely Island (and starring group member Andy Samberg), Palm Springs is a light new sci-fi comedy with a familiar premise. And while much of the film’s ingenuity does wear out somewhat quickly, the humor of the script and charm of the cast allow it to be a mostly refreshing watch nevertheless.
The movie follows two very different people who have a chance encounter at a wedding but soon find themselves unable to escape each other, sending them into a confusing spiral of emotions. There have been multiple versions of this story before, and even some that are wedding-themed romantic comedies, but Andy Siara’s script is unique enough to make this quite memorable.
Undoubtedly the best part of the film is the first thirty minutes, which will likely catch viewers off guard with its unexpectedly insightful take on well-known tropes. Unfortunately, the movie quickly settles into a familiar rhythm, and while this causes it to lose a lot of the element of surprise, there are still plenty of great moments.
There is also a lot more depth to the themes of this than there is in most similar sci-fi comedies. While one would expect something supported by The Lonely Island to have a lot of heart despite its goofiness, this film really leans into the more endearing aspects of the narrative. A significant portion of the movie explores the characters’ existential feelings.
Admittedly, the romantic storyline is the weakest part of the equation here. Although the characters are completely believable together, they fall pretty firmly into their respectable archetypes, and as such, the romantic comedy elements feel artificial and conventional. Still, this is only one portion of an otherwise really interesting film.
The actors also do a very good job of elevating the material and making it more involving. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti have wonderful chemistry together, especially when it comes to comedic timing. Samberg is admittedly playing to type, but he is still fun to watch. Milioti proves herself to be an exciting new talent in comedy. J.K. Simmons also gives a very funny turn in the supporting cast.
The movie does some really interesting things with its California desert location, but the sci-fi aspects of the visuals do leave something to be desired. Of course, the film obviously doesn’t have a massive budget, but the underwhelming nature of the CGI does draw the viewer out of those scenes.
Palm Springs starts a lot stronger than it ends, but it’s still a very fun ninety minute comedy. It’s nice to have a charming and thoughtful film to watch in a time when there haven’t been many feel-good movies like this.
Palm Springs streams on Hulu beginning July 10.