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Laramie Movie Scope: Palm Springs

Groundhog Day redux

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 2, 2020 – A man and a woman caught in a time loop fall in love in this romantic comedy which resembles “Groundhog Day.” This is a worthy successor to that 1993 Bill Murray-Andie MacDowell time loop classic.

This modern update of the time loop romantic comedy has a more complex story line, however, since the main character, time-looper Nyles (played by Andy Samberg of “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”) is not alone in the time loop. He is joined by another Palm Springs wedding guest, Sarah (Cristin Milioti of “The Wolf of Wall Street”) who is the sister of the bride, Tala (Camila Mendes of “The Perfect Date”). The two are also joined by another time-looping friend-turned-enemy, Roy (J.K. Simmons of “Whiplash”).

The time loop happens when an earthquake opens a mysterious time portal. Anyone entering the portal is trapped to forever repeat that day, and to remember what happened before in these time loops. Presumably, Nyles entered the portal by accident. Long ago, Roy was invited to enter the portal by a drug-addled Nyles. Angry at being trapped, Roy periodically hunts Nyles, sometimes killing him, but the day always starts over again for them. Sarah is accidentally drawn into the portal as a result of one of the violent encounters between Nyles and Roy.

Since Nyles and Sarah enjoy each other's company, they spend many days together goofing off and playing pranks on other people. But there is something about this endless day that is haunting Sarah, a mistake that she cannot correct and from which she cannot escape. Eventually this causes her to leave Nyles. Nyles soon discovers that he has changed. He is emotionally unable to go back to his comfortable life of carefree, alcohol-numbed resignation.

Eventually, Nyles, Sarah and Roy must come to grips with the nature of their existence and their past mistakes before they can finally resolve their inner conflicts and heal their relationships.

This is a complex story about love and emotional growth in a strange and seemingly hopeless situation which nonetheless is similar to the human condition we all share. The story is well-written by Andy Siara and the actors are convincing. The movie seems to get off to a slow, confusing start because at first the character motivations are not clear. Director Max Barbakow maintains a good pace and keeps things interesting despite the need for a lot of repetition.

Repeated scenes can be a problem for time loop movies like “Source Code” and “12:01” but not so much in this movie since there is more than one person caught in the time loop, and the time loop can last more than 24 hours in this case (as long as the person in the loop stays awake). The people in the loop can also travel to other places, as long as they stay awake.

This is a very good time loop romantic comedy. It ranks right up there with “Groundhog Day.” It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2020 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]