Hulu’s “Palm Springs” makes up for underwhelming comedy with a lot of heart

Jocelyn Sandusky, Reporter

It’s a premise that has been done many times before: the lead gets stuck in a time loop. Whether it’s the horror film “Happy Death Day,” the action film “The Edge of Tomorrow,” or the classic “Groundhog Day,” everyone is bound to have seen at least one iteration of this tired concept. The romantic comedy “Palm Springs” doesn’t exactly reinvent the redundant time loop plot or its genre, but the charismatic cast, especially its female lead, keeps the audience invested, despite a middle-of-the-road script.
The time loop formula might be played out, but “Palm Springs” at least adds an interesting and fun variation that drives the story to work as well as it does. Unlike other films, there isn’t just one main character trapped in a desolate pattern. In this film, there are two. After Nyles (Andy Samberg) inadvertently drags his girlfriend’s sister into the time loop with him, the film focuses on Nyles trying to teach Sarah Wilder (Cristin Milioti) to accept her fate for what it is while she shows him how to live to the fullest in spite of it.
The chemistry and dynamic between its well-matched leads are what mildly sets it apart from its predecessors. “Palm Springs” still focuses on the characters’ journeys to figuring out how and why they are infinitely stuck, but the vulnerable and genuine conversations at the center of the film push the story forward.
That is where this film really shines: in its sweet and sincere moments. That can be credited to director Max Barbakow’s delicate yet authentic touch. This isn’t a romantic comedy that makes the audience want to vomit from cheesy or cringey lines. It’s a charming film about accepting who you are and finally letting others love you for it.
The film, from start to finish, is a great romance, but it isn’t the best comedy. Andy Siara’s screenplay has a great story, but it’s quirky sense of humor only produces subtle smiles instead of laughs. It’s definitely a great addition to the romantic comedy genre, but it had so much potential to stand out by actually be loud out loud funny. The film has a good story, and it’s watchable, but without its great cast, it could have been a bore.
Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg’s quick banter and heartfelt exchanges make the film as good as it is. They play off each other incredibly well, and their connection on-screen is palpable. It’s clear the actors were game for anything, and their willingness to be as ridiculous and open as possible pushed the film to where it needed to be.
Even the supporting cast, including J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, and Meredith Hagner, contribute spunky performances that gel together to create seamless partnerships on-screen.
Even though “Palm Springs” isn’t as funny as it could be, it’s fun and satisfying enough for those who weren’t expecting much comedy. It’s a cute and heartfelt movie that is worth watching for its magnetic cast alone. It’s not a waste of time as long as audiences are looking for a great romantic film or a mediocre, not exceptional, romantic comedy.