Palm Springs Parent Guide
The movie's exploration of individual choices and moral compasses is sadly undermined by a truckload of serious content issues.
Parent Movie Review
Have you ever attended a big wedding and felt like the ceremonious event with its tedious toasts would go on forever? Well for Nyles (Andy Samberg), boyfriend to the stepsister of the bride (Meredith Hagner), the dread that this-is-never-going-to-be-over is not just a feeling, it is a reality. Somehow, the party-boy has been caught in a time loop and keeps reliving the marriage day of Tala and Abe (Camila Mendes and Tyler Hoechlin) at a Palm Springs resort.
But the monotony and frustration of his unique situation improves when another person gets stuck with him in the mysterious merry-go-round. Although Sarah (Cristin Milioti) reacts differently to their shared predicament, at least the she can remember what happens during the repeated day from one sleep to the next. And that allows their relationship to progress even though nothing permanently changes with Nyles and Sarah’s circumstances.
If you too are having a deja vu experience, it is because this screenplay is very similar to the movie Groundhog Day. (One of the noticeable distinctions between the two is that Bill Murray’s character in the 1993 classic has to endure the repeat cycle alone.) Both films focus on the individual choices and personal development that happens when someone lives in a world with no future or lasting consequences. What choices do they make? Do they lose their will to go on? Do they find a moral compass?
It is exploring the answers to such questions that makes Palm Springs more than the usual romantic comedy. It is just too bad the script didn’t concentrate more on those themes. Instead the writer (Andy Siara) decided to embellish the story by heaping it full of family-unfriendly content.
Both of the main characters frequently drink and sleep around. Drug use is depicted. Sexual portrayals run the gambit: heterosexual, homosexual, oral, masturbation and infidelity. Strong sexual expletives (some in a sexual context) and scatological slang are used so excessively you could shovel them. And a character named Roy (J.K. Simmons) piles on a revenge plot full of violent interactions that include weapon use and bloody injuries.
In my time as a movie critic I have run into a couple of films like this one. They offer some positive insights yet have so much negative content to wade through that they can’t be recommended. (For example, Click and Shallow Hal). Worse still, the industry feels like these important topics have been covered, so they move on and don’t come back to them for a long time. And that is a shame. I really wish this title could get another chance to share its message – just like Nyles and Sarah get the opportunity to redo their day – because without all its baggage Palm Springs might have been a worthwhile watch.Directed by Max Barbakow. Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons. Running time: 90 minutes. Theatrical release July 10, 2020. Updated October 27, 2020
Rating & Content Info
Why is Palm Springs rated R? Palm Springs is rated R by the MPAA for sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some violence.
Violence: A mild earthquake is depicted. Characters encounter lava. Characters discuss suicide and the desire to die. Characters do things that will kill them, like stand in front of a truck and drive into the path of a moving vehicle. A character is hunted by a character and shot with arrows: some blood is shown. A charter kills and tortures another in various ways. An angry woman throws cans of beer at a man. A character falls and breaks her teeth (blood shown). Guns are shot in target practice. A character falls off a car and another is purposely run into: blood, injury and pain are shown. Men wrestle: one is choked, the other stabled with a fork. A man receives a bloody nose, scrapes and bruise when he is thrown out of a bar. An animal is blown up in an experiment (not shown). Characters strap explosives to themselves and detonate them.
Sexual Content: Sexual conversations and inuendo are frequent. Female characters act in provocative ways and wear revealing clothing. Sexual activities depicted include kissing, embracing, undressing, laying on top of one another, thrusting, a man and woman copulating, a male character masturbating alone and later with the help of a partner, a couple having oral sex (the man’s face is in her lap and she is making sexual noises), male characters leaning in for a kiss, and two men engaging in anal sex. (Because of the repetitive nature of the script, some of these activities are seen more than once.) Characters cheat on one another. A character is heard urinating and later seen doing up his pants. A woman vomits. Characters give each other tattoos (one depicts a penis). The loss of virginity and an accidental pregnancy due to the misuse of a condom are mentioned.
Profanity: A strong sexual expletive is used about 60 times, sometimes in sexual contexts. A sexual figure gesture is also seen in two scenes. A scatological term is used about 30 times. A few mild and moderate profanities are also heard along with terms of deity and sexual slangs. A man claims he is an anti-Christ and professes that there is no god.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink alcohol throughout the movie, many to excess. Characters talk about taking drugs and other mind-altering substances, are seen using them and are depicted under the influence of them. Characters drink beer while driving.
Page last updated October 27, 2020
Palm Springs Parents' Guide
If you were trapped in a world where the same events unfolded day after day, what would you do? Would life lose its meaning? How would you find purpose?
If your world reset every morning, what would you learn from your experiences? How does facing consequences influence a person’s decision making? What might happen to your sense of right and wrong?
What are the differences between Nyles and Sarah’s response to their unusual circumstances? Why do you think they have such different perspectives about the same situation? How is that true of people in real life?
Sarah says, “If you ignore the past, you are destined to repeat it.” Do you agree? Why do you think she feels it is important to see a person’s “whole package” (past and present) if you are trying to build a relationship?
Why does Nyles feel the past is irrelevant? What things might he be trying to avoid? Do you think he would behave differently in a world where tomorrow did come?