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Hulu Palm Springs (2020)

Jake Lipson

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Title: Palm Springs (2020)

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Director: Max Barbakow

Cast: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Camila Mendes, Meredith Hagner, Peter Gallagher

Release: 2020-07-10

Runtime: 87

Plot: When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.

 

Jake Lipson

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This movie set the all-time record back in January at the Sundance Film Festival for an acquisition price, when it sold to Neon for theatrical distribution in partnership with Hulu for streaming rights. Then the pandemic happened, so it's going straight to Hulu (plus whatever drive-ins will book it) on July 10.

I think the trailer looks cute, but it basically appears to be Groundhog Day at a wedding.

That being said, I'll probably watch it.
 

cinemiracle

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This movie set the all-time record back in January at the Sundance Film Festival for an acquisition price, when it sold to Neon for theatrical distribution in partnership with Hulu for streaming rights. Then the pandemic happened, so it's going straight to Hulu (plus whatever drive-ins will book it) on July 10.

I think the trailer looks cute, but it basically appears to be Groundhog Day at a wedding.

That being said, I'll probably watch it.

Very enjoyable movie.
 

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Watched Palm Springs last night. It was a fun film. It felt like a direct-to-streaming production; I have trouble imagine this doing well theatrically even in normal times. Regardless, it was thoroughly enjoyable. It was also a brisk 89 minutes, and in an age of 3 hr superhero movies, this was refreshing.

I liked seeing Cristin Milioti, who I dont think I’ve seen since How I Met Your Mother. And after recently watching Hulu’s Veronica Mars one-season revival, I was lamenting not having enough J.K. Simmons in my life.
 
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Jake Lipson

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I really enjoyed it as well -- I'm not sure why I didn't post about it back when I watched it, which was around the time it came out -- and I think it could have done very well for itself in theaters if not for the virus. I certainly would have been delighted to go see it in a theater with an audience, and I think it would have been a crowd pleaser.

Samberg and Milioti have terrific chemistry together and their charm carries the film a long way. So does the writing, which is smart funny and not funny because the characters are being stupid, which is something I usually dislike. I also liked how the filmmakers keep giving you new information, so that even though the characters are reliving the same day, It doesn't feel repetitive for the audience. There are some really nice twists that I didn't see coming, and the trailer is well-cut to preserve those. Neon has done a great job with that sort of thing, having also been really careful and restrained in their marketing of Parasite last year. I will say that having the two characters both in the time loop together is great because it makes them accountable to each other in a way that doesn't exist in other time loop movies where only one character has the recurring event and no one else remembers it.

Back at Sundance in January, Neon and Hulu acquired this together for a guaranteed wide theatrical release followed by streaming on Hulu at a later date. Obviously, the pandemic scrambled those plans. I'm glad it went this way because it's the most fun new thing I've seen since being stuck at home, and I'm grateful for being able to see it now. But in a different world, I absolutely think it could have found success in theaters.

If there had been a wide theatrical release from Neon instead of having it go straight to Hulu with a few select drive-ins, a Blu-ray release would have been guaranteed. Because it has been redirected as more or less a Hulu exclusive, I don't know if that has any impact on a physical release or not, but I hope there is one. This is absolutely something that I would buy on Blu-ray to own permanently instead of being reliant upon a continued streaming subscription to see again.
 

Jake Lipson

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Because the events of the film's time loop occur on November 9, I fired up Hulu and rewatched this yesterday. It really holds up to repeat viewings. I think it would have still been one of my favorite movies this year even if the situation was better and there were tons of movies coming out in a safe theatrical environment with no COVID. It's that good.

Man, I really hope there is still a Blu-ray release for this film. Even though I can stream it on Hulu, I would like to be able to own the film permanently in a way that is not tied to maintaining a subscription. When it was acquired by Neon and Hulu together for theatrical release prior to streaming, it certainly would have had a disc release. However, now it is being billed as "Hulu Presents A Hulu Original," and unless I missed it, Neon isn't in the credits anymore.

I am glad they took this to streaming because it was wonderful to see this at home in the midst of the pandemic. But I would really hate it if the pandemic also cost us a disc release because Hulu now wants to keep it exclusively.

I also noticed that Hulu burned in their logo at the bottom right corner of the screen like when you watch TV. Fortunately, this was in the unused space/"black bars," so it didn't actually touch the film image itself. But I thought that was odd. Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime don't do that. I don't think Hulu did that the last time I watched this. I don't tend to go to Hulu all that often, so they might have added this in the last few months without me noticing. But I didn't like it. Another reason to want a disc copy.
 
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SamT

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Really liked this movie. Spoilers: They chickened out at the end. They shouldn't have shown what happens afterward, that was the whole point. It didn't matter.
 

Jake Lipson

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What do you mean?

I don't think the ending chickened out at all.
 

SamT

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They should not have shown what happens after the explosion and if they broke the loop.

He was in love and he didn't want to stay alone and stay in the loop even if it was an easy life. The movie should have ended right after the explosion. The point was that he wanted to be with her no matter what. Doesn't matter what happens.
 

Jake Lipson

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Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet:

I totally disagree with that. Sarah wanted to get out of the loop, and she is the audience's primary conduit. The only time we see the film from Niles' perspective is when she disappears for a while. We enter the loop with Sarah, not Niles. She is the one through which we see the majority of the film. Because it is her story and she wants to get out of the loop, it was absolutely necessary for us to see whether she got out of the loop or not. Also, ending with the explosion as you suggest and not answering the question would have been an awfully bleak ending for a romantic comedy.
 
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SamT

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Just ask yourself. What was the story? Was the story just about a technicality and if you can get out of the loop? Or was it about love and how you want to spend time with your loved ones. It wouldn't have been a bleak ending not showing. It doesn't mean they died. It's open for interpretation. This happy ending still works, but it would have been a little better without it. They are happy because they are together, not because they escaped the loop.
 

Jake Lipson

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They are happy because they are together, not because they escaped the loop.

Maybe you could argue that he is. But she for sure isn't. Sarah's primary goal throughout the entire movie is to escape the loop. That's why she says no when Niles asks her to stay instead of attempting to blow up the cave. If they're happy just being together, the movie could end right there with her saying yes and staying in the loop forever. For them to really be together, and not wake up with their previous partners every day, they need to escape the loop and move forward. So I think showing their success was absolutely vital.
 
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Jake Lipson

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In loading this thread, it occurred to me that the majority of the last several posts are completely under spoiler tags. This movie has been available on Hulu for six months. I think that is a fair amount of time for any interested parties to have seen the film, so I am not going to spoiler-ize my comments on this anymore. If anybody is reading this thread seven months after release and hasn't seen the movie yet, I would highly recommend that you do so. But this is well beyond the amount of time where spoiler tags are generally no longer required here.
 
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SamT

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I don't know, I personally wouldn't spoil the ending of a movie or huge spoilers even if the movie is 20 years old. Especially if a movie is not in the pop culture and is a lesser known movie. Most people will see these movies years later. This ain't I AM YOUR FATHER! :)
 

Jake Lipson

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You are by all means welcome to do as you wish with your posts. I feel that for the purposes of fostering discussion, at some point it becomes prohibitive to cover whole posts in spoiler tags. I also feel like it is unlikely that someone would be reading an entire thread for a movie that has been out for half a year without having seen the film. I did put a spoiler warning at the top of my post, and at some point we just have to move on from hiding stuff.
 
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Jake Lipson

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On another note, it was great to see this film nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Musical/Comedy.
 

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PALM SPRINGS is a modern version of GROUNDHOG DAY. No doubt. No dispute. That major caveat aside, it's a pretty amusing riff with a couple of new wrinkles, if not quite enough to stand apart from the original.

In this telling, Director Max Barbakow (who co-wrote the story with Andy Siara) adds more fantasy and sci-fi to the their version which involves a wedding where not one, not two, but, three of the guests get the Groundhog Day treatment*. Nyles (Andy Samberg) is there as a boyfriend on the Bride's side who hooks up with the Maid of Honor, Sarah (Cristin Milioti). He accidentally gets her groundhogged by leading her to a mysterious cave - which previously ensnared Roy (J.K. Simmons).

The cave's powers are never fully explained, but, it's mainly just an excuse for the trio to enter the world that Bill Murray went through in the beloved 90s film. There are some genuinely funny moments involving ways in which they take advantage of cheating death safe in the knowledge they will wake up the next morning to live the same day over again. Samberg and Milioti tussle to and fro but eventually end up having a decent romantic comedy relationship. Simmons plays it in his usually cool but confident manner. Eventually Milioti's Sarah tires of the situation and fights harder and harder to shake the curse.

The screenplay attempts some clarification of what is going on, and as mentioned earlier, gets into more outlandish and fantastical territory than Reitman's film, but, in the end, it really about Barbakow, Siara and the cast just riffing on a favorite film. It's as if they sat around watching it on DVD and made up stuff MST3K style. Of course, even before GROUNDHOG day there were repeating time loop tales including, perhaps most famously, Richard Lupoff's 70s short story, 12:01, which itself was filmed before GROUNDHOG DAY as an Oscar nominated short (a lawsuit ensued). Subsequent movies such as END OF TOMORROW and SOURCE CODE have followed.

PALM SPRINGS is perhaps the most purely fun of the GROUNGHOG DAY knockoffs. The cast seems to enjoy letting loose. I'm pretty agnostic about Samberg with even his long stint on SNL not being very memorable outside of a couple of social media buzz videos. Milioti with her expressive eyes tosses herself into the role without abandon and perks things up whenever Samberg's shambling performance starts to drag. Simmons is gleefully along for the ride, and Dale Dickey is a pip as a burnt out biker. PALM SPRINGS ultimately can't escape the shadow of its famous forefather (and Samberg is no match for Murray), but, it's mildly diverting on its own.


* Notably, in Danny Rubin's original script for GROUNDHOG DAY, Andie McDowell's Rita also got it
 
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