Sundance 2020: Palm Springs

Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg in Palm Springs. Photo by Chris Willard.

The charming Palm Springs puts a different spin on the romantic comedy genre in a way that will certainly feel familiar to viewers.

Nyles (Andy Samberg) takes the attention away from maid of honor Sarah (Cristin Milioti) at her sister’s destination wedding.  Her speech was a recipe for disaster so its naturally for the best.  Subsequently, the two of them hit it off together.  But this film isn’t just about them.  No, it’s about Abe (Tyler Hoechlin) and Tala (Camila Mendes).  The two of them are getting married but naturally, anything that can go wrong does.  It’s a comedy, what else were you expecting?!?

To say that Nyles is a nihilist would not be an understatement.  Nothing matters anymore to him and as Sarah grows to know him, she starts to show similar traits in her behavior.  I’m not saying that it’s a complete copycat but let’s just say that I really love some of the montage sequences in the film of their relationship.  Because it’s a rom-com, the film manages to hit all the right beats.  But because it does so in such a fresh way, it doesn’t really matter.  See what you did to me, Nyles!

This film had my interest from the very minute that I learned about it.  You can’t go wrong with a cast that includes Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons.  Marketing-wise, it’s going to be a tough sale without giving the film away.  Even in writing this review, the very single thing is tough to do so.  This is because the film that reminded me of another classic film from over twenty years ago.  The only difference is this one decides to get into the quantum physics of the whole mess.

Do I recommend that audiences go in blind and knowing as little as possible?  Yes.  This is why I’ve placed the only major spoiler within a URL link.  As such, the only way you’re getting spoiled from me is if you click on the link.  Please exercise the restraint and DO NOT CLICK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.  Spoiler warning over.

Outside of the main cast, there’s some solid supporting performances from Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, Peter Gallagher, and the ever hysterical June Squibb.  The veteran actress may have a very small role but she makes the best of it.

If you’re feeling Lodge 49 withdrawal, maybe Palm Springs should be able to cheer you up.  After all, screenwriter Andy Siara most recently wrote for the dearly departed series.  Meanwhile, Max Barbakow hits it out of the park for his first narrative feature.

Palm Springs is a charming hit in the making.

DIRECTOR:  Max Barbakow
CAST:  Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, Chris Pang, Jacqueline Obradors, June Squibb, Tongayi Chirisa, Dale Dickey, Conner O’Malley, Jena Friedman, with Peter Gallagher and J.K. Simmons

Palm Springs held its world premiere during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Neon and Hulu will distribute the film. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.