The trippy indie animated movie “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea” feels a heck of a lot like it was dreamed up during an artistic hipster’s drug induced stupor. The film, written and directed by graphic novelist Dash Shaw, is an apocalyptic mind-bender about the many reasons why high school totally sucks.
The movie takes a look at one truly terrible day in the life of high school junior Dash (Jason Schwartzman), his nerdy best friend Assaf (Reggie Watts), high strung school paper editor Verti (Maya Rudolph), and popular girl Mary (Lena Dunham). When an earthquake suddenly strikes, it sends their high school crumbling into the sea, and the kids must reach the senior level of the building before it’s too late. The gang encounters sharks, jellyfish, a jock-led cult, drug seeking bullies, and more, eventually enlisting the help of tough Lunch Lady Lorraine (Susan Sarandon) to lead their escape to safety.
The simple plot is fattened up with extraneous padding in order to get to a feature length runtime of (an already brief) 75 minutes. The film is at its best when dark humor rules the scenes with a subversive snark; what a pity the idea starts to feel stretched too thin by the halfway point.
This is a really weird movie that’s packed with a kaleidoscopic vibe and psychedelic visuals that at times reads like a piece of experimental visual art. The eccentric backgrounds are colorful and delightfully garish, with inventive screen burns, crude hand-colored characters, and bits of digitally created handiwork thrown in the mix.
Shaw utilizes various media types to create a boldly original work of art, from uncomplicated pen and ink line drawings filled in with crayon and chalk to finger paint and dribbling watercolors. The action sequences rely heavily on the use of strobe lights, and there’s even a pre-credits warning that people with epilepsy may need to exit the theater.
This is a gonzo spirited adolescent disaster movie that artistic types are guaranteed to love.