Palm Springs, the new Andy Samberg movie that was just released today on Hulu (but I was lucky enough to see it in a drive-in yesterday night!) is the metaphor we need right now, but didn’t even know it.
This is a rom-com about a pair of less-than-desirable paramours who are stuck in an infinite time loop that resets whenever they fall asleep (or die) and brings them back to the morning of a wedding in the desert of Palm Springs. It is invariably compared to Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray/Remis masterpiece that we all have watched every year since 1993 on our own infinite loop, but it’s more than that (although not sure yet if it’s the perfect 100% that Rotten Tomatoes has given it – I’ll have to watch it a few more times☺).
The basic premise is that Nyles (the Samberg character) is stuck in this day-of-the wedding time loop as the plus-one to a wedding where his younger, selfish girlfriend is a bridesmaid. We go through his day where he has aborted bad sex with the disinterested girlfriend (so we know they are NOT a happy couple), lolls around in a pool drinking, and then shows up at the wedding wearing an Hawaiian shirt and shorts and saves the day for the sister of the bride who is called upon to make an ad hoc speech after what we already see is too many glasses of cheap red wine. They obviously connect and are seen making out in some mountainous setting where suddenly Samberg is hunted by a bow and arrow-toting maniac. He escapes to a glowing cave where he is being dragged in, and Sarah, the sister-of-the-bride (Christin Milioti), follows him in, while he screams, “do not come in.”
Scene break, and we start the day over again through Nyles’ perspective, only this time, an irate Sarah shows up at the pool, accosting him as to what is happening, since she too has already been through this day.
Here we learn that Nyles has been here a long time (although we never learn how long or why) and that Sarah has now joined the club. It’s Groundhog Day for two, an interesting twist. But, of course, it’s more than that too.
Nyles and Sarah race through the existential questions raised in Groundhog Day (can you escape this endless day with death-no; can you change the outcome by doing something good – also no; can you get away-no). After Nyles and Sarah get to know each other doing wacky things with no consequences (stealing a plane and crashing, bar fights at the local dive) and finally sleeping together, Nyles realizes he just might have found his reason for living-Sarah. However, Sarah decides she’s going to figure this out, and goes on an online search for the solution whereby she masters Quantum physics through intense online instruction and returns to Nyles with a bomb that will blow up the cave and either free her or send her back, but just might kill her along the way. Meanwhile, Nyles, who has been unable to make a commitment to anything ever, has realized that he loves her and that he does not want to spend the rest of eternity without her, but would prefer to spend the rest of eternity with her in this 24-hour loop. She tells him she can’t and he agrees to step through the cave and explode because he chooses not to live without her. As she is set to detonate the bomb she tells him that she loves him too.
Blank screen. I’m thinking The Sopranos here.
And then the screen comes back and they are both lolling in the pool again, as an angry family is barking at them, asking why they are swimming in their pool. Nyles says, “It’s November 10th!” which we all realize is the next day (the wedding was took place in November 9).
This is the near-perfect movie for this moment for people at home who are living their own personal Groundhog Day.