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Love blooms repeatedly in ‘Palm Springs’

"Palm Springs"

Hulu Films

Directed by Max Barbakow

Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher and Camila Mendes

Rated R

3 Stars

You might think that the new movie Palm Springs is a direct rip off of the 1993 comedy classic, Groundhog Day.

That’s understandable as this new film does tread a lot of familiar territory, with Andy Samberg playing a guy who’s stuck in a time loop, forced to relive the same day over and over again.

The two films do share a lot of similar elements, at least in the set up and commitment to some darkly humorous moments.

I won’t claim Palm Springs is anywhere near as funny as the Bill Murray masterpiece, but I did appreciate how the filmmaking team added some smart twists to the basic formula.

Perhaps the most notable of these is the addition of Cristin Milioti, playing a woman who also gets stuck in the time loop alongside our hapless hero. Allowing the woman to play an active part in the story offers some fun opportunities and makes sure that there won’t be any problematic romantic moments that might turn off contemporary audiences.

But wait — there’s more.

J.K. Simmons is also along for the ride, playing yet another man who’s been sucked into the time loop. He blames Sandberg’s character for this, so he devotes time each week to tracking him down and murdering him. It’s funny but macabre stuff.

But with apologies to Samberg and Simmons, I think that it’s Milioti who really makes Palm Springs work.

She has great chemistry with Samberg and she’s more than capable of comedically holding her own against her more famous co-star. She ends up being our true hero. She’s the one we care about, the one who drives the story and the one who figures out a way to wrap everything up.

Samberg still gets top billing, but Milioti is the reason to see Palm Springs.

I also appreciated the romantic aspects of the film. The filmmakers don’t shy away from sex and weave it into the story for comedic and dramatic effect.

The courtship is amusing as it’s not just a question of a guy trying to make a sexual conquest, but rather an amusing portrait of two people who might very well love each other, but who aren’t very good at figuring how to make their love bloom.

Oh well. If they mess things up today, there’s always the chance to try again tomorrow.

Or the next day.

Or the next …

Palm Springs is streaming exclusively on Hulu.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week in The Port Arthur News and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.