Groundhog Day meets Wedding Crashers in the loopy sci-fi comedy Palm Springs

Three Stars

This smart, funny high-concept romantic comedy plays out like a millennial version of Groundhog Day, but if Andie MacDowell had gotten sucked into the day-repeating limbo alongside Bill Murray.

It begins as a guy named Nyles (Andy Samberg) wakes up the morning of a wedding somewhere in the desert, surrounded by people he barely knows. He spends all day floating in the pool, guzzling cans of beer, interrupting the big speeches and looking totally unfazed as his girlfriend hooks up with the officiant in the bathroom.

He almost seems to be following a rehearsed set of instructions, and that's because he's been through this night before: He's been trapped in a time loop for who knows how long, always waking up on the same morning no matter what he does.

But then Nyles starts flirting with Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the sister of the bride, and she unwisely follows him into a strange portal that appears in a nearby cave. Now she's stuck in perpetuity with a guy she barely knows, and once she realizes that trying to escape is futile, they both decide to make each new day as different as the one before.

You'd think the possibilities of this kind of premise would have been exhausted already — the high-water mark is Groundhog Day, of course, and the recent Netflix series Russian Doll mined similar territory — but the script, written by Andy Siara, manages some unexpected twists, including a vengeful wedding guest played by J.K. Simmons. Samberg and Milioti have excellent chemistry, too, and their ease with each other lets us buy into the rumpled optimism of the premise, which never gets bogged down in seize-the-day platitudes. ♦

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About The Author

Nathan Weinbender

Nathan Weinbender is the Inlander's Music & Film editor. He is also a film critic for Spokane Public Radio, where he has co-hosted the weekly film review show Movies 101 since 2011.