‘Palm Springs’ Is ‘Groundhog Day’ With a Twist

Palm Springs is the latest film to put an original spin on the idea of a character reliving the same day over and over again. Video game journalist Blake J. Harris has loved the concept ever since watching Groundhog Day as a kid.

Groundhog Day is a top five all-time favorite movie,” Harris says in Episode 435 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And Palm Springs is probably my favorite movie I’ve seen in a year.”

Palm Springs features three characters—played by Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons—who all relive the same wedding over and over. Fantasy author Erin Lindsey enjoyed the film’s dark, twisted sense of humor.

“One of the reasons that so many of the jokes worked is because they built on the assumptions that were already hard-wired into my brain because of Groundhog Day,” she says. “So I just thought it was really done so well, but I do think that it would be hard to absorb that movie as well if Groundhog Day had never been.”

In Groundhog Day, cynical weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) never really reflects on his mistreatment of others. Science fiction author Zach Chapman likes that in Palm Springs, it’s made clear that actions have consequences, even if you’re the only one who remembers. “Andy Samberg’s character is like, ‘Pain matters. When you hurt people, it matters. You still have to live with that,’” Chapman says. “I prefer that approach.”

Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley likes that the romantic leads in Palm Springs both remember their previous encounters, which allows their relationship to develop in a more believable way, in contrast to films like Groundhog Day, Source Code, and Edge of Tomorrow, in which only one of the characters remembers the earlier events.

“There’s always this intimacy that rings false to me at the end,” he says, “because you’re like, ‘Wait, the other person, who doesn’t remember all the previous days, they’ve known this person for eight hours or something, and they’re acting like they’ve gone through this intense experience together.’”

Listen to the complete interview with Blake J. Harris, Erin Lindsey, and Zach Chapman in Episode 435 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

David Barr Kirtley on Palm Springs:

“[Andy Samberg] has been trapped in this time loop for a very long time, and he inadvertently leads Cristin Milioti to this glowing cave in the hills, where she also now gets trapped in the time loop, so there are two characters who both remember all of their prior trips through this day. My other main issue with Groundhog Day, which occurs to me more now, watching it, is that I feel like there’s something a little bit uncomfortable watching a romantic comedy where the woman has really no idea what’s going on and is being manipulated for like 85 percent of the movie. So I do feel like it’s a refinement of the formula, in Palms Springs, to have the leads—you know, neither of them are so helpless and so overpowered by the circumstances that they’re in.”

Zach Chapman on Happy Death Day:

“I was kind of excited about this, because there were a lot of Austin critics that were giving this some pretty good praise, so this is the one that I was most excited to watch. I’m being super critical now, just because I had my hopes up, but the dialogue is pretty bad, and the character is not very smart. It takes her a long time—dramatically—to realize what’s going on. … This movie has no claws. I’m not sure, it might be PG-13. The kills are really boring if you’re into slashers. It doesn’t do anything interesting with the slasher aspect, and it doesn’t necessarily do anything interesting with the Groundhog Day aspect. It’s just a marriage of both, and mediocre all the way through.”

Erin Lindsey on Source Code:

“Some of the more interesting stories to me are about why soldiers don’t follow their orders, and what are the sort of things that your standard operating procedures or your command tree can’t really predict, and the deviations that are part of human nature. … The backstory for why he’s in this vegetative state is that he was a helicopter pilot, and we don’t really know the details, but he was saving his unit, and it was all very heroic. Well, couldn’t you build from that? Couldn’t it be that following the orders, and being told you had the ticking time bomb, and doing all of this, resulted in this huge disaster, and everyone you cared about died? And so maybe this time you’re questioning your orders, and you’re questioning the morality of the script. That could have been interesting.”

Blake J. Harris on Edge of Tomorrow:

“My biggest problem with the movie says much more about me than any actual problem. I just hate the idea of the time loop being able to impact me. At least in Palm Springs or anything else, people—as we’ve discussed—have autonomy in their own lives, and are making their own decisions, and their lives are seemingly unchanged by Phil Connors or Andy Samberg. But in this, wars are won and lost based on this thing that you have no control over, that you can’t prepare for. … It’s as if [someone] were going back in time on their own unique adventure, and then it makes me no longer be with my wife. I don’t like that, because there’s nothing I can do to stop it.”

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