Andy Samberg has a habit of finding himself in time-loop conundrums.
This past July, the former Saturday Night Live star released his buzziest project to date, the high-concept rom-com Palm Springs, in which he and Cristin Milioti star as two strangers forced to endure a Groundhog Day-like experience, reliving the same destination wedding over and over and over again. Distributed through Hulu, its planned theatrical release scuttered due to the pandemic, Palm Springs was an instant word-of-mouth streaming success, offering trapped-at-home viewers an entertaining if accidental mirror to their own what-day-is-it-again? reality.
But now, six months after Samberg went through the initial promotional rounds for Palm Springs, the actor finds himself once again reliving the media junket experience, thanks to the film (finally) making its way to Hulu-less Canada this week on Amazon Prime Video.
While the déjà-vu discussions are “a little bit” disorienting, Samberg insists that he’s ready to chat about Palm Springs over and over and over again. “As someone who has made movies in the past, I’m not going to kick it out of bed because people want to keeping talking about it,” he says over a recent Zoom call. “There are heavy themes in the movie, but it’s also joyful and hopeful, so I’m sure it’s appreciated by those still feeling trapped.”
The film arrives as the latest production from Samberg’s Lonely Island trio, which along with members Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, has cornered the indie-comedy market. In the past two years, the group have produced three films, two television series (three if you count the ongoing sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine), and a multi-U.S. city tour to perform their absurdist comedy-rap albums.
But not every project gets as potent a Lonely Island flavour as the next.
“We’ve had varying degrees of involvement or lack thereof, but Palm Springs was obviously different because I was starring in it,” Samberg says. “It was a collaboration from the jump, though, with [director Max Barbakow and writer Andy Siara]. We spent a couple months rewriting with them – just restructuring and clarifying emotional arcs. It’s was sort of a creative cocoon.”
Palm Springs ended up in many ways being an extension of the Lonely Island’s method during their SNL days, when they first gained fame for their viral “SNL Digital Shorts” (including Lazy Sunday, I’m On a Boat, and one sketch whose full name cannot be printed here).
“The process has for many years been there would be the shoot, then Akiva would do the first pass, then we’d bang on it all together,” says Samberg. “Being a producer, it’s just the feeling of making everything tighter.”
Palm Springs was sold after debuting at January’s Sundance Film Festival for upward of US$20-million – a huge number for an independent picture, and a deal that carried the opportunity for theatrical distribution by American upstart Neon (Parasite, I, Tonya). Naturally, that didn’t happen.
“In a strange way, it ended up being, I hesitate to say fortuitous, but I do think there were more eyeballs on Hulu than there might’ve been otherwise,” Samberg says. “It was the dead of summer and all these incredible blockbusters got pulled, and here all of a sudden was this nice little movie with nice buzz that you could watch at home. Do I still mourn not getting theatrical? Of course. But you lose something, and you gain something.”
And for whatever Samberg does next, there’s always, of course, tomorrow.
Palm Springs is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video starting Dec. 18
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