Palm Springs 2020


A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley


PALM SPRINGS” (RATED R) ON HULU The seemingly endless time loop of reliving each day, most memorably realized in “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray’s weatherman Phil Connors trapped in an existential purgatory of arrested development, is the basic premise in play for the offbeat romantic comedy of “Palm Springs.”

The thematic genesis of “Palm Springs,” now streaming on Hulu with a MPAA rating as the film had been destined for wide theatrical release, is not just the Bill Murray opus but also a touch of the black comedy slasher film “Happy Death Day.” Andy Samberg’s Nyles, by all appearances a slacker with a girlfriend he doesn’t seem to care about in any serious way, is a wedding guest doomed to repeat the same day over and over at a tony spot somewhere in the southern California desert.

Waking up each day next to his girlfriend Misty (Meredith Hagner), a self-absorbed party girl who consents to meaningless quickie sex, Nyles is constantly reliving November 9, the wedding day of Tala (Camila Mendes) and Abe (Tyler Hoechlin).As the plus-one for bridesmaid Misty, Nyles feels no consequences for his actions, showing up at the wedding and reception wearing shorts and a bright Hawaiian shirt and delivering an impromptu toast to the newlyweds.

At the reception, Nyles meets Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the older sister of the bride and a pariah in her own family. An attraction develops between them, especially after Nyles discovers Misty cheating on him. Things get weird when a seriously deranged older man named Roy (J.K. Simmons), starts shooting arrows from his bow in an attempt to kill Nyles, thereby interrupting a romantic moment with Sarah.

With an arrow stuck in his shoulder, Nyles crawls into a nearby cave that is glowing with a baffling light, and though he warns Sarah not to follow, she also gets sucked into the mysterious flaming whirlpool. As a result, now both Sarah and Nyles are trapped in the time loop, and unlike the equivocal Nyles, Sarah wants so badly to escape that she resorts vainly to drastic measures such as driving back to Texas and running in front of a speeding truck.

When desperation fails, Sarah turns to tutorials in quantum physics to find the way out of the metaphysical limbo, sharing her plan with Nyles, who expresses love for her but seems to be okay staying in the loop. With the repeats of the chaotic wedding day unveiling secrets of family members, the bantering and bickering Nyles and Sarah form a deeper bond that blossoms into love regardless of their shortcomings. A whimsical romantic comedy, “Palm Springs” works because of the mismatched chemistry of the energetic, snarky Andy Samberg’s Nyles and the despairing, mordant Cristin Milioti’s Sarah, the unwilling maid of honor.



From the same era of the late Fifties in which the private eye series “Peter Gunn” began its three-season run, “Mr. Lucky,” another half-hour crime show, shared similar traits in that the series was also created by Blake Edwards with music by Henry Mancini.In the role of the titular character, John Vivyan owned a floating casino. With his sidekick Andamo (Ross Martin), Mr. Lucky would become enmeshed with the mischiefs of assorted gamblers, crooks, gangsters, fugitives and hit men cavorting on his yacht.

The first episode finds Mr. Lucky and Andamo operating the casino on a banana republic island ruled by the corrupt dictator El Presidente (Nehemiah Persoff). To curry favor and keep his enterprise open for business, Mr. Lucky would purposely lose money to the dictator in weekly poker games. Fortune would run out for Mr. Lucky when Andamo was exposed as a revolutionary seeking the overthrow of the government by running guns and plotting an assassination of El Presidente.

The floating casino named Fortuna was sunk by government forces, forcing Mr. Lucky and his compatriot to flee with only the clothes on their backs and some pocket change.Relocating to an American port city in the second episode, Mr. Lucky scored a big haul in a dice game and managed to buy the yacht of a swindler and turned it into a casino that was christened the Fortuna II.

Skirting the laws against gambling, the Fortuna II was anchored three miles offshore in international waters, and the floating casino became identified as “Lucky’s” with a pair of dice brightly illuminated to flash the numbers seven and eleven.The “Mr. Lucky” series suffered misfortune midway into its one and only season when major sponsor Lever Brothers decided its product did not mix with gambling and insisted the casino be turned into a floating restaurant and nightclub.

The absence of the shady world of gambling took the edge off a series that delighted in having disreputable people mixing it up with conflicts that had to be resolved aboard a seabound casino.Catch the early gritty black-and-white episodes of “Mr. Lucky” on Amazon Prime Video before the chance slips away.