(director: Max Barbakow; screenwriters: Andy Siara/story by Siara & Barbakow; cinematographer: Quyen “Q” Tran; editors: Matthew Friedman, Andrew Dickler; music: Matthew Compton; cast: Andy Samberg (Nyles), Cristin Milioti (Sarah), J.K. Simmons (Roy), Meredith Hagner (Misty), Camila Mendes (Tala), Tyler Hoechlin (Abe), Chris Pang (Trevor), Tongayi Chirisa (Jerry), Dale Dickey (Darla), Peter Gallagher (Father of the Bride); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Becky Sloviter, Jorma Taccone, Dylan Sellers, Chris Parker; Neon; 2020)
“The scenes between Milioti and Samberg were very funny, refreshing and well-executed.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It broke a record when it was acquired jointly by Hulu and Neon at Sundance for $17.5 million … and 69 cents.
The debut fiction feature by Max Barbakow (“Mommy, I’m a Bastard!”) is a familiar but revitalized new “Ground Hog” version that’s set in the desert. The time-loop rom-com fortunately doesn’t take itself seriously (even when it tries to get serious). It has writer Andy Siara make things insanely enjoyable even when the story gets stuck dealing with an endless and timeless bad situation that keeps repeating.
Sarah (Cristin Milioti) is the black sheep of a large judgmental family, who reluctantly attends the wedding in Palm Spring, California, of her sister, Tala (Camila Mendes), where she’s the maid of honor. Also reluctantly attending the wedding is the genial, know-it-all, slacker Nyles (Andy Samberg), with a teenage girlfriend named Misty (Meredith Hagner) that he’s not interested in. Sarah and Nyles make a connection as friends at the post-wedding reception. But because of a strange occurrence when both flee to a desert cave to be alone, they become stuck repeating all of the previous day’s events over and over without being able to escape.This inexplicable event allows them time and space to fall in love and act nutty.
It’s most fun when it’s goofy, following the silly behavior of its colorful characters who are flustered trying to deal with an impossible eternal situation. It also yearns to deliver a serious message about valuing one’s life experiences and acting your age as a grown-up and caring about others, but that message seems misplaced in the desert.
From the supporting cast, J.K. Simmons as Roy stands out as a wedding guest who hilariously reveals his anger while also delivering some valuable life lessons to the younger generation.
Samberg and the Lonely Island gang of producers from SNL have done a good job of transferring their television skits into credible movie sequences. The scenes between Milioti and Samberg were very funny, refreshing and well-executed.
REVIEWED ON 2/9/2020 GRADE: B