Palm Springs is the new light, breezy Hulu comedy featuring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti stuck in a Groundhog Day scenario, reliving the same say over and over again while finding companionship in each other. Directed by Max Barbakow and written by Andy Siara, the movie broke the record for the biggest sale in the history of the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. And yet, as Siara revealed in an interview with Consequence of Sound, his intention for Palm Springs before it became a romantic comedy was something much darker.
"We just built this story around Nyles. Honestly, the first version of this movie was more of like Leaving Las Vegas, where this guy goes out to Palm Springs to essentially kill himself. And then it just evolved over the years for a variety of reasons. I got married, fell in love, and started a family, and a lot of it is kind of about that. And Max went through shit. But it was always, from the beginning, me and Max as kind of acting as each other's therapists and entertaining each other and trying to make each other laugh."
In Palm Springs, Samberg plays the role of Nyles, a wedding guest who is stuck reliving the same day over and over again after a visit to a mysterious cave at a resort in Palm Springs. Things are further complicated when Sarah, played by Milioti, follows Nyles into the cave and gets stuck in the time loop with him. The rest of the movie follows various attempts by the two to escape the loop while discovering unexpected truths about each other and themselves in the process.
For Siara, turning the script away from its earlier darker themes of depression and taking one's life towards a lighter tone allowed him to inject his own musings on love based on personal experiences into the movie's narrative.
"It's not autobiographical by any means, but there's an emotional specificity I guess of my own exploration of commitment and marriage. And as Andy said in an interview right around Sundance, taking the plunge can be a profound experience. That's ultimately what it's about. It's about taking that plunge - and what that plunge is. It could be anything to anyone else. It could be buying a house. It could be having a kid. It could be moving in with a partner. It could be getting married. It could be so many different things. So, it's a deep exploration of that idea."
Andy Samberg is no stranger to making small budget comedies, having made many cult classic films in the genre over the years alongside his Lonely Island collaborators Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, such as Hot Rod and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. The Lonely Island also produced Palm Springs, which Samberg believes added a friendly, light-hearted atmosphere to the entire project, while also shows up onscreen.
"Well, Hot Rod was with a studio, so it was much more comfortable of a shoot. But I will say, you know, part of what appealed to us when [Palm Springs] came through the door was them saying, "We're doing it together. We're friends." We connected with that. Me, Kiv [Akiva Schaffer], and Jorm [Jorma Taccone] were like, "We're not the break up the friends guys. We're the keep the friends together guys." [Laughs.] It's true. There's something intangible about that in life, and in creative endeavors. It just makes it have a little extra something. And, of course, that turned out to be the case. And it makes working with people a lot nicer, too, because there's a comfort there."
These interview quotes from from Consequnece of Sound.