Director Max Barbakow
Screenplay Andy Siara
Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Peter Gallagher, J. K. Simmons, Tyler Hoechlin, Meredith Hagner, Dale Dickey, Chris Pang, June Squibb, Jacqueline Obradors, Camila Mendes
As the days of Covid-19 tend to repeat themselves, a long running project for Siara and Barbakow comes to fruition that actually fits right in with the theme.
The story starts on November 9, with Nyles (Sandberg) as one of many guests at a weekend wedding at a Palm Springs resort. He looks and feels done with it all. He does some peculiar things during the wedding, including picking up the sister Sarah (Milioti) of the bride in the most unique way. Just when they are about to have a go, an odd series of events happens and both of them wake up. It’s November 9 again.
The fact that they are playing the day over again is a surprise to Sarah, but not the Nyles. He’s been living in November 9 longer than he can remember. This clever premise allows a departure from the film’s admitted source material (Groundhog Day) and pushes it into something new. If it’s not entirely better than Ramis and Murray’s classic, it definitely stands on its own. It’s definitely one of the best comedies of the year.
Samberg is right at home in the role of bored but good hearted slacker. We can believe he has spent years in this loop, never bothering to find a solution other than to satiate his boredom. He’s not been someone I followed at all since his debut in Hot Dog. I am likely to begin watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine based on this alone.
The real find is Milioti. She has the perfect sensibility as the one who is able to assess a situation that has long been dismissed by her counterpart. It’s the sign of a confident film that allows us to follow a lesser known but equally talented actor to create dimension that would never be thought of in a traditional romantic comedy. She’s been in a few things I never contemplated watching (How I Met Your Mother) and one thing that is just horrible (The Wolf of Wall Street). I did enjoy her in the Black Mirror Star Trek episode.
The story is solid, the direction is interesting, the cast is something you actually enjoy seeing day after the same day. This film makes a great case for film festivals like Sundance, which is where it was discovered and broke the record for purchase at $17.5 million. The creativity feels unhindered by studio research.
This film made me and my wife laugh on a Friday night, when going somewhere isn’t an option. It’s the most ridiculous type of praise to say it’s worth watching again when every day is a copy of the last.
(**** out of *****)