Palm Springs (2020 film)

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Palm Springs
Palm Springs poster.jpeg
Official promotional poster
Directed byMax Barbakow
Produced by
Screenplay byAndy Siara
Story byAndy Siara
Max Barbakow[1]
Music byMatthew Compton
CinematographyQuyen Tran
Edited by
Distributed by
Release date
  • January 26, 2020 (2020-01-26) (Sundance)
  • July 10, 2020 (2020-07-10) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million[2]
Box office$765,535[3]

Palm Springs is a 2020 American science fiction romantic comedy film directed by Max Barbakow with a screenplay by Andy Siara from a story by Siara and Barbakow.[1] It stars Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Peter Gallagher, and J. K. Simmons, and follows two strangers who meet at a Palm Springs wedding only to get stuck in a time loop.

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2020, and was released in select theaters by Neon and digitally on Hulu on July 10, 2020. It received universal critical acclaim, with praise for the performances and use of the concept. The film received two nominations at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Samberg.


On November 9 in Palm Springs, Nyles wakes up next to his girlfriend Misty on the wedding day of Tala and Abe. At the reception, he delivers an impromptu speech, much to the relief of Tala's sister, Sarah, the drunk and unprepared maid-of-honor. Nyles and Sarah bond and, after discovering Misty cheating on Nyles, are about to have sex in the desert when Nyles is abruptly shot in the shoulder with an arrow by a mysterious man. Wounded, he crawls toward a mysterious light in a nearby cave, warning Sarah not to follow. Concerned for Nyles, Sarah follows him and is sucked into a vortex within the cave.

Sarah wakes up and is startled to discover that it is November 9 again. She confronts Nyles who explains that, by following him into the cave, she has become stuck in the same time loop as him. Sarah tries many methods to escape, such as driving back to Austin, attempting an act of selflessness and committing suicide. Nyles and Sarah spend many days together, often relaxing in the pool of a nearby home whose occupants are away on vacation. Nyles reveals that the man who shot him is named Roy, a family man from Irvine, whom Nyles also trapped in the time loop after he and Roy met at the wedding and did drugs together. Nyles explains to Sarah that Roy blames him for being trapped in the time loop and occasionally comes to Palm Springs to hunt him for revenge.

After many loops, Nyles and Sarah camp out in the desert where they consume magic mushrooms and eventually have sex. The next day, it is revealed that Sarah has been waking up in Abe's room having spent the night of November 8 with him and he advises her to leave before she is seen. A guilt-ridden Sarah refuses to talk to Nyles about their previous night, expressing that everything they do is meaningless. They are pulled over by a police officer who turns out to be Roy. Sarah rams into Roy with the police car, badly injuring him. After an argument, Nyles admits that he had sex with Sarah numerous times before she entered the time loop, something that he had lied about before. A disgusted Sarah runs in front of an oncoming truck, killing herself and restarting the day.

After the next reset, Nyles spends his days searching for Sarah. He smells Sarah's perfume on Abe's pillow and realizes that Sarah and Abe had sex the night before the wedding. He confronts Abe during the wedding and a fight breaks out between Nyles and Abe. Nyles travels to Irvine to talk to Roy, who has given up on hunting Nyles after Sarah hitting him with the car caused him to be kept awake in agony in the ICU. Roy explains that he lives in the perfect day forever with his loving family, but will never get to see his children grow up. Roy says that they should never speak again, and Nyles asks Roy to murder him one last time so he can reset.

Sarah confronts Abe over their affair and both express remorse. Sarah then resolves to escape the time loop, spending many days in a diner studying quantum physics, general relativity, talking with professors and finally coming to a solution. She tests her theory by sending a goat into the cave with explosives. In the next reset, the goat has disappeared. Sarah wakes Nyles up and tells him she believes she knows how to escape the time loop by blowing themselves up in the cave before they restart the day. Nyles admits he loves Sarah but wants to stay in the time loop with her forever. She resolves to try her escape plan without him and a frustrated Nyles breaks up with Misty.

Sarah attends the wedding, gives a heartfelt speech for Tala, makes a phone call and goes to the cave with explosives. Drinking alone in a bar, Nyles has a change of heart, decides to leave with her and rushes to the cave, professing he would rather die with her than remain in the loop alone. Sarah reciprocates his feelings and they kiss while she presses the detonator. Nyles and Sarah wake up, again lounging in the vacant pool when the home owners show up, revealing it is November 10 and the plan worked. In a mid-credits scene, Roy approaches Nyles at the wedding, asking about Sarah's plan to escape the loop (from her phone call). When Nyles does not recognize Roy, he realizes the plan has worked and smiles.



Director Max Barbakow and screenwriter Andy Siara first came up with the idea as students at the American Film Institute, "with an equal eye on Jungian philosophical ideas and the pragmatic importance of writing a small-budget film that would be easy to produce."[4] They imagined the script as "an absurdist comedic mumblecore take on Leaving Las Vegas, centered on a despondent thirtysomething who travels to Palm Springs to kill himself, only to slowly rediscover a sense of meaning in his life."[4] When Siara went on to write for the television show Lodge 49, they redeveloped the script into a more ambitious project with a sci-fi edge.[5] While Groundhog Day was a fundamentally important starting point for the use of a time loop in a romantic comedy, Barbakow and Siara knew they needed to distance their script from the film. This led to starting with Nyles already within the time loop, making the film like "a sequel to a movie that doesn't exist" according to Siara, and then adding Sarah as a second character within the loop to serve as a point of navigation for the audience.[6]

The project was announced in November 2018 after it secured a tax credit to film in California, however due to the limitations of that tax credit, they were forced to film in Los Angeles area rather than Palm Springs. Andy Samberg was revealed as starring in the film.[7] In March 2019, Cristin Milioti and J. K. Simmons joined the cast.[8] Camila Mendes was added in April.[9]

Filming began in April 2019, and lasted for 21 days.[10] Shots feature the Cabazon Dinosaurs.


Palm Springs had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2020.[11] Shortly after, Neon and Hulu acquired distribution rights to the film.[12] Neon and Hulu reportedly paid $17,500,000.69 for the film, breaking the previous record for the highest sale of a film from Sundance by $0.69.[13] Later reports put the deal closer to $22 million after guarantees were factored in.[2]

The film was released in the United States digitally on Hulu and in select drive-in theaters on July 10, 2020.[14] Hulu claimed that the film also set the opening weekend record by "netting more hours watched over its first three days than any other film" in the platform's history.[15] In August 2020, it was reported that 8.1% of subscribers had watched the film over its first month.[16] In November, Variety reported the film was the 26th-most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 up to that point.[17]

In January 2021, a commentary cut of the film featuring Samberg, Milioti, Barbakow, and Siara was released; Hulu claimed it was the first such release by a streaming service.[18]


Box office[edit]

Palm Springs grossed $164,000 from 66 theaters in its opening weekend.[19] It played in about 30 theaters in its second weekend, and made $101,000.[20]

Critical response[edit]

Palm Springs was met with critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 94% based on 218 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Strong performances, assured direction, and a refreshingly original concept make Palm Springs a romcom that's easy to fall in love with."[21] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 83 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim."[22]

Writing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich gave the film a grade B+ and praised the film for cleverly reworking the Groundhog Day formula: "The movie always seems on the brink of biting off more than a super energetic 90-minute comedy can chew, and the sheer momentum of the storytelling doesn't give the story time to slow down."[23] Peter Debruge of Variety gave the film a positive review, and wrote: "Palm Springs is to time-loop movies as Zombieland was to the undead genre: It's an irreverent take on a form where earlier iterations were obliged to take themselves seriously."[24] Vince Mancini of Uproxx gave the film a positive review, saying: "Palm Springs is the perfect kind of art-comedy. It comes on like a brilliantly silly little lark and eventually lands on you like a ton of bricks."[25]

Metacritic summarized various critics end of year top lists, and ranked Palm Springs in 12th place overall.[26]

IGN named the film their "Best Movie of the Year 2020".[27]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Critics' Choice Awards March 7, 2021 Best Comedy Palm Springs Won [28]
Critics' Choice Super Awards January 10, 2021 Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie Palm Springs Won [29]
Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie Andy Samberg Won
J. K. Simmons Nominated
Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie Cristin Milioti Won
Best Villain in a Movie J. K. Simmons Nominated
Film Independent Spirit Awards April 22, 2021 Best First Screenplay Andy Siara Pending
Golden Globe Awards February 28, 2021 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Palm Springs Nominated [30]
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Andy Samberg Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association March 5, 2021 Best Breakthrough Performance (Actress) Cristin Milioti Won [31]
San Diego Film Critics Society January 11, 2021
Best Comedic Performance Andy Samberg Nominated
Best Editing Andrew Dickler
Matt Friedman
Best Performance by an Ensemble Palm Springs Nominated
Satellite Awards February 15, 2021 Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Andy Samberg Nominated
Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Palm Springs Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Andy Siara Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association February 8, 2021 Best Original Screenplay Andy Siara Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards March 21, 2021 Best Original Screenplay Andy Siara
Max Barbakow

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2021 Writers Guild Awards Nominees".
  2. ^ a b Fleming Jr., Mike (February 3, 2020). "Value Of Hulu/NEON 'Palm Springs' Deal Is Actually $22 Million; How Streamers Ruled 2020 Sundance". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  3. ^ "Palm Springs (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 5, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Siede, Caroline (December 4, 2020). "Palm Springs is the definitive 2020 rom-com". The A.V. Club.
  5. ^ Erbland, Kate (July 7, 2020). "How 'Palm Springs' Transformed from 'Leaving Las Vegas' Rip-Off to a Sci-Fi 'Groundhog Day'". IndieWire.
  6. ^ Kring-Schreifels, Jake (July 9, 2020). "How the 'Palm Springs' Team Found a New Wrinkle in the Time-Loop Movie". The Ringer. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  7. ^ "SNL alum Andy Samberg's 'Palm Springs' film on pace to earn $2.5 million in tax credits". The Desert Sun. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  8. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (March 11, 2019). "Upstart Limelight Sets 'Palm Springs' As First Go Picture; Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons To Star". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  9. ^ 'Riverdale's Camila Mendes To Star In Netflix Film 'Windfall'; Joins J.K. Simmons & Andy Samberg in 'Palm Springs'
  10. ^ Bennett, Alanna. "Camila Mendes Is Taking It All in Stride". Teen Vogue.
  11. ^ Patten, Dominic (December 4, 2019). "Sundance 2020: Angelina Jolie, Robert Redford, Riley Keough, Bruce Lee Docu, Lena Waithe & LGBTQ+ Rights Pack Lineup". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  12. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (January 27, 2020). "'Palm Springs' Near $15 Million Deal With Neon & Hulu – Sundance". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  13. ^ Coyle, Jake (January 8, 2020). "'Palm Springs' sets a Sundance record in $17.5M sale". Associated Press News.
  14. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (May 28, 2020). "Andy Samberg's Rom-Com 'Palm Springs' Will Debut on Hulu in July". Variety. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  15. ^ Scharf, Zack (July 14, 2020). "'Palm Springs' Sets Hulu Streaming Record with Biggest Opening Weekend — Exclusive". IndieWire. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  16. ^ Tran, Kevin (August 10, 2020). "'Hamilton' Far Bigger Than Anything on Netflix in July, Audience Data Reveals". Variety. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  17. ^ Bridge, Gavin (November 4, 2020). "DATA: 'BORAT 2' SECOND ONLY TO 'HAMILTON' IN MOST-WATCHED U.S. SVOD MOVIES OF 2020". Variety. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  18. ^ Donnelly, Matt (January 25, 2021). "Hulu Debuts 'Palm Springs' Commentary Cut With Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  19. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (July 13, 2020). "'Empire Strikes Back' Leads At The Weekend Box Office With $644K, 23 Years After Sequel's Special Edition – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  20. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (July 21, 2020). "'The Outpost' Still Strong on VOD, While John Lewis and Danny Trejo Docs Score". IndieWire. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  21. ^ "Palm Springs (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  22. ^ "Palm Springs Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  23. ^ Ehrlich, David (January 27, 2020). "'Palm Springs' Review: Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island Brilliantly Reinvent the 'Groundhog Day' Formula". IndieWire. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  24. ^ Debruge, Peter (January 28, 2020). "'Palm Springs': Film Review". Variety. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  25. ^ Vince Mancini (July 7, 2020). "'Palm Springs' Is Silly, Stylish, Profound, And Damn Near Perfect". Uproxx. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  26. ^ "Best of 2020: Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved December 26, 2020.
  27. ^ "Best Movie of the Year 2020". Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  28. ^ Davis, Clayton (February 8, 2021). "Critics Choice Awards: 'Mank' Leads With 12 Nominations, Netflix Makes History With Four Best Picture Nominees". Variety. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  29. ^ Millado, Nate (January 4, 2021). "Here Are The Winners Of The First Annual Critics Choice Super Awards". CBS Watch. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  30. ^ "Nominations for the 78th Golden Globe Awards (2021) Announced". Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  31. ^ "The 2020 Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) Nominations". Retrieved February 2, 2021.

External links[edit]