Escape to Palm Springs

The Stream: The latter third gets bogged down looking for an exit strategy.

The Big Screen: Great chemistry between the leads gives you something to root for.

The Final Bill: Endlessly entertaining, fun, funny and rewatchable.

-Trip Fontaine
Director: Max Barbakow
Writer: Andy Siara (screenplay by)
Stars: Andy SambergCristin MiliotiJ.K. Simmons | See full cast & crew
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Rating: Rated R for sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some violence
Runtime: 1 hour 30 minutes
Platform: Hulu

When I think about Andy Samberg, I think about him playing the Swedish Chef on “SNL”. He’s like a Muppet with unintelligible speech and lacking depth. Even though Samberg is good on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, it still feels like a cartoon goof. Maybe that’s just me. Can he be a romantic lead? Well, in Palm Springs, now streaming on Hulu, Samberg gets to show us if he can. I have watched Palm Springs twice, and here’s why.

Palm Springs is a romantic comedy about a free-spirited wedding guest (Samberg) and the anxious maid of honor (Milioti) at a wedding in Palm Springs that fall into an unexpected cycle that brings them closer together. The conceit is pretty evident by the trailer, but I want to be as un-spoiler-y as possible for those who would avoid the trailer so I want say it specifically. Nevertheless, the plot device is one that we’ve seen before, but it adds to the charm of Palm Springs. As romantic comedies go, this movie hits all of its notes: moves at a good pace; is actually both pretty funny and un-manipulatively romantic; and concludes in under 90 minutes.

Andy Samberg plays Nyles, the boyfriend of one of the bridesmaids, who blithely flits through the wedding without any cares. He feels like a quintessential Samberg character especially in the early wedding reception scene that is so perfectly choreographed, but there emerges some good depth throughout. He is a great lead here. Samberg also has a great foil in Cristin Milioti as Sarah, the maid of honor. Milioti was done dirty by “How I Met Your Mother” – if you’ve seen the final season then you know what I mean – but she is a fantastic comedic actress and a strong screen presence. Milioti meets the manic energy of Samberg in their heighten circumstances head-on. They play off each so other well and the relationship between their characters is believable and fun. Also, J.K. Simmons has a small, pivotal and hilarious role. When Simmons shows up, you know it will be a good kick in the pants.

The only real problem with Palm Springs is inherent in movies with this conceit – it all has to be explained at some point. The movie could go awry at that point and get bogged down, and it does teeter but it doesn’t topple. Really, if you’ve committed to the film up to that point, then it has done its job, so just go with it.

S2S: Official Rating Scale

Thus, Palm Springs is a fun movie that achieves its goals of entertainment, comedy and sweet romance. Enjoy the chemistry of Samberg and Milioti, and for some, even marvel at how Samberg has morphed into a believable leading man and not just a silly man-child. You won’t be disappointed.

At first viewing, I thought that this was a solid bowl of popcorn to munch on, but after my second viewing, I think I may go for a third this week, which means grab that big box and have a blast. Palm Springs really feels like a classic 80’s comedy that somehow got stuck in a vault and released in 2020. It is great escapist fare.

Bowl to Full Box Fresh