Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
USA/Hong Kong, 2020. Limelight, Sun Entertainment Culture, The Lonely Island, Culmination Productions. Story and Screenplay by Andy Siara. Cinematography by Quyen Tran. Produced by Chris Parker, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Dylan Sellers, Becky Sloviter, Jorma Taccone. Music by Matthew Compton. Production Design by Jason Kisvarday. Costume Design by Colin Wilkes. Film Editing by Andrew Dickler, Matt Friedman. American Cinema Editors Award 2020. Golden Globe Awards 2020. Independent Spirit Awards 2020. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2020. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2020. Washington Film Critics Awards 2020.
Cristin Milioti struggles to get through her sister’s wedding, overdoing the wine before learning that she is expected to give a speech in honour of the bride and groom. She is saved from embarrassing herself by one of the guests, the boyfriend of the bride’s best friend who is casually dressed, unkempt and barely sober himself and delivers a speech in her place. Milioti spends the rest of the evening chatting with the stranger (played with his usual irreverent charm by Andy Samberg), finds herself making out with him out in the desert and then, out of nowhere, they are attacked by a deranged archer (J.K. Simmons) who chases them into a cave. Milioti wakes up the next morning and discovers, to her horror, that the same day has repeated and it is the morning of her sister’s wedding: it wasn’t a dream, but actually the cave she entered put her in an endless time loop that will see her live out the same day over and over again, something Samberg has apparently been doing for years and which has worn down his soul. If nothing you do has any consequence and you can reset the next day, you find yourself getting up to quite a few things you normally wouldn’t do (at this point he has boned the entire wedding party and guests, male and female). Now that he has a companion in this twilight world, things are looking up, they go on adventures together as a result of the fact that they can both do whatever pleases them without consequences, but much like the rocky, arid wonders that surround them, paradise soon grows tiring and Milioti decides to figure out a way out of their situation. She challenges Samberg to do the same, but he has become so accustomed to the comfort of immature indulgence that he is afraid of what will happen if he once again lives a life where what you do counts so much. It sounds like a plot that is justifying its ripping off Groundhog Day by stretching for some kind of profound meaning, but it provides the right level of reflective moral consideration after having indulged itself in some genuinely funny and imaginative turns of plot that never go the way of overdoing the gimmick. Meredith Hagner is terrific as Samberg’s exasperated girlfriend, Peter Gallagher lends able support as father of the bride, but the whole thing rests on the charisma of the stars and they deliver in spades, their rip-roaring chemistry making for a highly satisfying and rewatchable good time.