Palm Springs

Palm Springs ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

There’s a tension throughout most of every “Groundhog Day” rip-off wherein the audience spends an inordinate time trying to figure out if the new filmmakers are actually going to do something truly additive to the formula or if they just intend to dine out on the wealth of ideas bequeathed to them from Harold Ramis’s monumental original. For a while “Palm Springs” suggests it will offer us something along the lines of the former possibility, an unexpected take on the “endless day” trope, but in the end it’s more a showcase for Andy Samberg’s practiced charms than a real  ideas movie.

What looks like invention for one or two acts quickly turns into an exercise in rounding out the genre of “Groundhog Day” movies. There’s a lot of low level tinkering here; what if the protagonist is already in the time loop when we first meet them? What if someone else is in it too? What if key facts are withheld from the protagonist even though they think they know everything about the day already? What if the protagonist doesn’t want to escape? These are essentially edits on the template and they’re largely executed with a sure hand, but by the time the resolution is revealed in a mostly lifeless montage scene involving a goat(!), the promise of novelty has dissipated.

What’s particularly disappointing is that the film gets a solid chance at redeeming itself at the climax where it seems to tease a conclusion without resolving the time loop, a ballsy move that got me excited for a minute. Alas it retreats back into safer territory with an on-the-nose epilogue that no one needed yet one that surely set everyone at ease. That’s actually a reasonably good summary of this entire movie.

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