Animated movies are a genre with a lot of mainstream and a few indie releases. We tend to get a lot more foreign smaller animated movies than domestic ones, but it happens. I’ve watched a lot of things like Adult Swim and many videos of similar weird trippiness on YouTube, so I’ve seen my share of odd, often intentionally weird or discomfiting animations.
My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea comes from writer/director Dash Shaw and uses a fascinating blend of various art styles, like simple animation, collages, and various other high level Adult Swim-esque animation oddness. The story is also weird; it starts with a high school built on a cliff near the sea as we follow two nerds, Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and Assaf (Reggie Watts). Both work on the highly unpopular school newspaper with the editor Verti (Maya Rudolph), but after Dash notices Assaf and Verti connecting, he’s furious. He plans revenge.
After he plants a fake story about the new couple in the newspaper, he gets detention and discovers that the school is built on a fault line. But his warnings go unheeded.
And then the quakes start, and there’s some shocking violence that’s dismissed like it’s nothing. Thus begins one bizarre adventure. As the title of the movie states, the cliff collapses and sends the entire high school into the sea. So now people are dying, eaten by sharks or drowning, and Dash, Assaf, and Verti must somehow work together to travel up to the roof to get rescued.
Along the way, they must avoid people thinking they’re about to die like bullies or near-cultists, and are assisted by the classic “buff lunch lady” Lorraine (Susan Sarandon), who is portrayed as a kind of quasi-magical mentor type. Mean girl Mary (Lena Dunham) ends up coming along with the weirdos because she thinks it’s her best shot at surviving.
There’s a touch of philosophy.
The movie is utterly fantastical, yet it makes the trauma seem cartoonish because of the animation style. Yet it’s trippy and violent, not really for everyone, despite its light tone at times. The trippiness sometimes leads to very odd, jarring visuals. This is a very short movie, at just about 75 minutes. In a lot of ways, it plays more like an extended short film than a full length one.
It’s technically a comedy, but one of those weird dark comedies that is more funny by odd juxtaposition than purely situational. Yet it’s also absurd, and that will probably work well with people that like that sort of Adult Swim type of thing. I liked it in general, but I can’t honestly recommend it to very many people. It’s for those of very particular tastes.
The voice acting was good, with only Susan Sarandon sounding obviously like her. I even forgot Lena Dunham was voice acting Mary. It’s an interesting, odd movie, that will appeal to a specific group of people. But otherwise, it’s not for you.
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