We see the version of America that we’ll probably teach as accurate in 30 years.
It’s hard to do a movie that’s really based around one main joke, as I recently pointed out with the film Cooties. This film’s main joke is that everything in it is not only inaccurate, but ridiculously so. The thing is, the film is doing this to point out that Americans so over-inflate our history that this movie’s not much less accurate than most of our portrayals of our founding. I mean, if you’re going to deify all of the Founders, then why not also give them superpowers and chainsaw blades?
The plot of the movie is that Benedict Arnold (Andy Samberg) successfully kills off the Second Continental Congress and steals the Declaration of Independence. He then assassinates Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte), the best friend of George Washington (Channing Tatum), who inherits Lincoln’s dream of founding a new nation called America. Washington joins forces with noted beer inventor Sam Adams (Jason Mantzoukas), Chinese immigrant inventor Thomas Edison (Olivia Munn), man raised by horses Paul Revere (Bobby Moynihan), Native American renegade and tracker Geronimo (Raoul Trujillo), and notable blacksmith John Henry (Killer Mike) in order to stop Arnold and the plans of King James (Simon Pegg).
Originally I was told that this movie’s historical inaccuracy was actually based on final exam answers given by US high school seniors. Unfortunately, I’ve found nothing to back that up, so maybe American students aren’t that dumb. That said, some of the gags in this movie based on historical confusion are absolutely hilarious. Probably my favorite is when George Washington introduces himself to his future wife Martha (Judy Greer) and she asks him if he’s the inventor of peanut butter, which he confirms. The joke here isn’t just that she’s confusing him for George Washington Carver, it’s also that George Washington Carver didn’t invent peanut butter. A ton of the humor in this movie is that the thing that they make a joke about is itself based on a common misconception. I found that hilarious, but it did mean that some of the punchlines took more thought than you’d expect.
The rest of the movie is just a parody of every giant action movie trope, including the final climactic fight scene that involves every character and a ton of fast-cut visuals like the end of Avengers: Endgame. Much of the violence is over-the-top, but in a way that successfully cuts down the impact. My favorite is the running gag of a character’s throat getting ripped out and calling them “roadhoused.”
Overall, I’m not going to say this is a great movie, but I thought it was entertaining.
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti star in this smart romantic comedy.
It’s November 9th and Nyles (Andy Samberg) is at the wedding of Tala Wilder (Camila Mendes) and Abe Schlieffen (Tyler Hoechlin) with his girlfriend, Misty (Meredith Hagner). After the wedding, a drunken Nyles delivers an impromptu toast, which bails out Tala’s unprepared sister, Sarah (Cristin Milioti). Nyles starts up a conversation with her and the two hit it off. She and Nyles find Misty cheating on him, so they start to make out in the desert until they’re interrupted by someone named Roy (J.K. Simmons) shooting Nyles with arrows. Injured, Nyles crawls into a strange cave and Sarah follows. She finds herself waking up on November 9th, now stuck in a time loop with Nyles. Hijinks definitely ensue.
So, I went into this movie totally blind. I was told that it was funny and it stars two people I like, so I figured I would watch it eventually, but I didn’t know anything about the film. I almost wish that I could talk about this movie without mentioning the central conceit. However, it is a hallmark of good filmmaking that I was able to guess the underlying time loop premise just based on a few scenes of Andy Samberg interacting with the crowd. It was at that point I paused the movie and said “This is awesome.” It would not be the last time I did so during this film.
Actually, that amazing efficiency of storytelling is part of what works best about Palm Springs. It doesn’t have to really tell us everything that Nyles has gone through because we can see how he interacts with the world now. His nihilism (not saying that’s why his name is Nyles, but…) has taken over his life because literally nothing he does matters. He has been through so much that he barely feels human, but we also get the idea that he was never filled with an abundance of ambition before this. Nyles, despite having spent what has to be literal years in this loop, doesn’t appear to have actually used it to gain new skills or better himself, he’s just given up and gotten drunk. The movie takes advantage of the fact that you’re probably familiar with at least some other Groundhog Day loop media and uses that to skip over some of the more common stages in the trope, like moving past the suicide montage. It does the same with many tropes of romantic comedies, allowing us to skip quickly past some of the dumber formulaic elements and move towards some more genuine and compelling interactions.
Cristin Milioti is one of my favorite actresses in recent years, mostly due to her amazing performance as the titular Mother in How I Met Your Mother. In this film, she is damned near perfect and the chemistry between her and Andy Samberg is so natural that it never seems forced even under the most bizarre situations. Sarah is a screw-up and basically the black sheep of her family, something that doesn’t exactly seem undeserved based on some of her actions during the film, but we also see that unlike Nyles she doesn’t give up easily. Her growth throughout the film is hard-won, but it’s almost more satisfying than Nyles’s arc because we see her initial fall into depression after she realizes that she’s stuck in a loop.
Oh, and then there’s the comedy. My god, there’s the comedy. Andy Samberg isn’t exactly playing his usual goofy layabout like in Brooklyn Nine-Nine or the oblivious Rock Star from most of his Lonely Island projects. Instead, he’s a broken man, and he nails the humor that comes from that kind of darkness. His dialogue delivery and even his physical performances kept me laughing throughout the entire plot, but it only gets better when he’s with Milioti. Her comedy reactions are on-point, as is her delivery. She can give a good line a push into great, or give a look that moves a fun joke into uproarious. I was laughing so hard at points I almost broke, and a lot of that was just the two of them messing around with the time loops. All of the supporting characters, too, help create this hilarious environment.
Overall, I just loved this movie. It was one of the most fun times watching a film I’ve had in a while. I recommend it to everyone.
Just making sure that people get what happened at the end here. Sarah, having studied Quantum Mechanics, determines that the only way to get out of the time loop is to destroy the cave while the loop is actually transporting them back to the beginning of the day, because it’s a temporal wormhole. If they destroy the cave and themselves at the same time while the cave is transporting them back, that’ll cause the wormhole to try and restart twice at the same time, essentially overloading it and blowing them into tomorrow. Now, this is entirely insane, but why listen to me, I’m just a physicist. We don’t find out of they started the next day where the first loop ended or where the last loop ended, but since they both have memories of the full loops, probably the latter.
At the end of the movie, we also see the dinosaurs which the pair saw while they were on mushrooms earlier. It turns out that these are the Cabazon dinosaurs, a set of giant roadside attractions that were previously in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. The dinosaurs are visible from Palm Springs due to their size and proximity. They appear to be moving in both scenes, but I think the first time that’s because of the drugs and the second time that’s because of the thermals coming off of the desert. However, it’s also possible that because there’s a magic time portal buried in the mountains, there might also sometimes be dinosaurs near the fake ones. After all, love is just as crazy as a time portal.