Hulu’s Palm Springs is Time Travel Comedic Gold

Palm Springs is a funny flip on the endless loop monotony, while also saying something deeper about life, the universe and everything.
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You heard it here first, “Hulu’s Palm Springs is Time Travel Comedic Gold.” Got it? Because when everyone in your little clique of friends starts screaming, HOLY CRAP “Hulu’s Palm Springs is Time Travel Comedic Gold!!!”… I want it to be painfully, and abundantly clear, that I said it first. Alright? Because yeah, I did. OK? Now that we have that out of the way, yeah, so I recommend you all take a gander at Hulu’s Palm Springs. I woke my wife up, what? 4 times? When I just cracked up, laughing out loud. Her – “WHAT?! WHAT?! Who died?!? Oh. seriously chief, you are going to have to do whatever it is you are doing somewhere else. This is getting old.” (I’m embellishing that exchange a tad, but really not much. I was having the hardest time not laughing out loud. Over. And. Over again. So, just from a comedic standpoint – kudos to Palm Springs, it had me in stitches. Oh, and by the way it is also a fantastic Groundhog’s Day scenario. But instead of rolling with it, it sort of lampoons the idea. Here, have a trailer – see what I mean. No, actually – DANGIT! – skip the trailer for once would you? Just open Hulu and start watching it. You guys still don’t trust me and I brought you Casa Blanca?!? I mean, if not Casa Blanca, then what? (Off stage murmuring). Uh, OK, so I didn’t bring you Casa Blanca. Fine. But I might as well have. I brought you Dark didn’t I? Aren’t they basically the same thing?

OK. So I gave in and dropped a trailer in, in spite of the whole Casa Blanca imbroglio. But that’s the last time okay? Great. Because I’m sick and tired of it dammmmit. This is a good movie. Just take my word for it. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to do a quick walk through of the movie so that we can talk about the ending, the meaning, and other stuff that will spoil it for those of you with no movie taste… So please leave until you’ve seen the film. Great, thank you. You can watch it right here – just so you know.

Palm Springs Movie Walkthrough

I’m not sure if all of you know – but last week, I spent all my time (and by all, I mean, all my time) pulling together a Comprehensive Dark Family Tree. It is literally the most complicated thing I’ve ever created, and it basically sucked 22% of my soul out of my body. So I just don’t have a lot in me (78% apparently) to do this right now. So we are going to rocket through this fantastic movie. But trust me, the details of this film are worth really delving into, even though I am not doing at this particular moment.

The movie opens on Tala’s (played by Camila Mendes) wedding day. She’s marrying Abe (played by Tyler Hoechlin)…and we don’t care about either of them. But that’s OK, we might by the end? We are more focused on Nyles (played by Andy Samberg). He moves through this wedding day like he can do no harm, and yet, he’s strutting around in a luau attire. And he moves through the dance floor like a well rehearsed robot he’s so on top of his game. It’s disconcerting really. But Nyles has his eyes set on a gal named Sarah (played by Cristin Milioti), and they have an amazing evening together, until a guy named Roy (played by a hilarious J.K. Simmons – who you know from Whiplash, Juno, La La Land, and most importantly, my favorite, Counterpart) shows up and begins hunting Nyles down with a bow and arrow. But when Nyles crawls into a cave, is sucked into a time continuity warp, and Sarah follows him in, things begin to get really weird.

So, apparently, for the past millennia…(or however long, no one knows) Nyles has been waking up every single day, in the same hotel room, and walking through Tala’s wedding, over and over again. One day, he befriends Roy, and he says that he never wants this day to end. And so Nyles takes him at his word, and walks him into the cave. But that causes Roy all manner of anger issue, thus the random hunting and maiming of Nyles, and not murdering. Because, if you die in Palm Springs, it just resets the day. And also, if you fall asleep as well. And Roy is going out of his way to harm Nyles. But, you also noticed that Sarah walked into the cave as well. Well, that means that she is now trapped in this repeating day as well.

Hulu's Palm Springs is Time Travel Comedic Gold

In loop 2 the bride slips and falls on the pool deck knocking her front teeth out. And everything goes wrong very quickly. And from here on out, we are dealt permutation after permutation of the default wedding scene. Including Sarah’s just driving away, all the way to Texas, where she falls asleep on the couch, causing her to end up back in Palm Springs all over again.

Well, eventually, Sarah and Nyles settled down into having laughs with each other in a million different varieties. Converse about their lives, get into shenanigans of various sorts. But he tells her that they had never had sex, or that he could remember anyway.

But the two of them begin trying to figure out how to get out of this endless and terrible looping that is occurring to them. They attempt to be magnanimous – and Sarah tells Tala in the middle of her wedding that she slept with Abe the night before…whispering it into her ear. But no matter what they try, nothing works. Eventually, while camping in a tent in the desert, they see a couple of dinosaurs stomp their way past. (???) I literally don’t have a theory on that one. I know the guy officiating the wedding had some good drugs that Roy and Nyles had more than once…could it be they were both completely strung out? I got nothing for you intrepid interwebs reader. None. Drugs is about all I have for you.

But after she hits on Nyles, and they have sex in the tent they are both happy. It seems like they are destined to live the rest of eternity there in Palm Springs, reliving the same day over and over and over again. But when Sarah wakes up, she sort of snuggles back into her bed, but a guy arrives out of nowhere and tells her that she probably ought to leave before someone sees her. Wait, what??!? What is that? Well, if you didn’t understand that bit, basically, the night before she began looping, you know – the night before the wedding – Sarah slept with Abe. Yes, you are correct, Abe is Tala’s new husband to be. So yeah, Sarah slept with her sister’s fiance the night before their wedding. And after that, she is all kinds of out of sorts. Which, sort of makes sense. She is forced to relive that morning of guilt, over, and over, and over again. And poof, Sarah disappears on Nyles. Nyles slowly downward spirals after she leaves. Even going so far as visiting Roy at his home to figure out what he was missing.

Hulu's Palm Springs is Time Travel Comedic Gold

Eventually though, Sarah comes back after having basically taken a doctoral level course or two in physics and quantum mechanics. She even went so far to test her theories out, which brought her to the realization that if they blow up the cave as they are crossing over the threshold, she’ll be able to escape the time loop. Nyles doesn’t want to leave, he is afraid of what he might find on the other side. But he eventually runs to the cave to be with Sarah, and to express his undying love for Nyles as well. They blow the cave, and wake in the neighbor’s pool. Only to see that the neighbors return the day after the wedding. The End!

Oh, wait, there might be one more detail you might find confusing. We watch as Roy, having gotten a voicemail from Sarah about what she was about to try, wanted to find out from Nyles if she was actually able to pull it off. And so Roy finds Nyles at the wedding and asks him, but Nyles doesn’t recognize him. Get it? Why? Because Nyles went with Sarah, and the two of them weren’t in the loop anymore, so his memory of him is gone. It escaped the loop with Nyles when he left. So that is why Roy was excited that Nyles didn’t recognize him, because it could only mean one thing, they figured it out.

Interesting Tidbits From the Movie Palm Springs

The single most interesting bit for me was that one moment, after Sarah slept with Nyles, and she woke in the morning in Abe’s bed. Why is that part interesting? Well, because normally, in Groundhog’s Day movies, the larger point is that we must learn to get better. (It’s trash theology, but I don’t see anyone attempting to preach it from a pulpit, so whatever.) That we just perfect ourselves by living selflessly. Thinking of others first. Giving, not taking. Etc. It’s trash I tell you. But it is interesting in that it points out just how hard it is for us to live a perfect life. Impossible actually.

But that isn’t what Palm Springs was about at all. They make a run at living selflessly once. But that fails immediately, and they don’t try it again. Instead they grapple with the idea that life is utterly meaningless here and also outside the loop. Is there a purpose? At all? With any of it?

Maybe the point is just enjoying life? And Nyles is all about that. Forgetting the past pain of life, and letting that go. He works hard at just being content with the same crappy beer he drinks day after day. With the same desert he’s stuck in, day after day. To make the most of life. But Sarah can’t do it. Why? Because she wakes in the bed of her worst moment. She wakes trapped inside her deepest sin. Ah, now THAT is interesting to me.

I can relate to that. I’m terrible with forgiving myself. I grind myself down for the dumbest of little mistakes. But waking in the bed of your sister’s later that day husband? That’s a pickle. And the cosmic dice are determined to rub Sarah’s face in it, over and over again. So she has to get out of there. She has to move on from her worst moment, and figure out how to do something different instead, even if it just means her death. That is a really interesting metaphor for sin. No seriously, whether you are a Christian or not, you are familiar with the Judaeo-Christian idea for the need for grace. And that is what she needs here. (Nyles is in need of it too, but he hasn’t realized it yet.) And that is what I need today too. Because today I’m trapped in a day that continues to repeat. Sure, I get a little bit old each day, and the details of the day change a bit, but still I am haunted by my stupid mistakes that I need to be forgiven for. Anyway, I found it a fairly profound movie for being such a hilarious comedy.

And that is why, Hulu’s Palm Springs is Time Travel Comedic Gold.

Edited by: CY