By Ryan Keating-Lambert
A high school disaster film fuelled by wonderfully quirky performances (from big names) and psychedelic animation. My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea is as whimsical and original as its name. It’s Daria meets Titanic.
A group of junior high school students must ban together to escape their high school after an earthquake plunges it into the ocean. Students include misfit Dash (Jason Schwartzman), and his fellow school newspaper reporters Verti (Maya Rudolph) and Assaf (Reggie Watts), gossip girl Mary (Lena Dunham), and Lunch Lady Lorraine (Susan Sarandon).
Director and writer Dash Shaw makes his first feature length animated film after the success of Seraph, a Sigur Ros inspired short film co-written with the talented John Cameron Mitchell. Receiving a special mention by the jury at Anifilm Festival in Třeboň this weekend, My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea is probably going to be one of the most memorable outings in the whole festival.
First of all, the line-up of stars and their performances were just spot on. Jason Schwartzman portrays the nervous and nerdy Dash with great ease, with a catalogue of Wes Anderson films under his belt, I’d be surprised if he didn’t. Girls writer and star Lena Dunham also does a good job with the gossipy yet Peppermint Patty look-alike Mary, but the real star here is Susan Sarandon as the cynical tough-nut Lunch Lady Lorraine.
The film is just so damn playful and impossible not to love. Although the premise is beyond ridiculous, the characters are so lovable and well developed that it’s virtually impossible not to feel tied to their fate. It knows exactly what kind of film it is, and that’s where it succeeds. There’s no pretention here, just good clean fun.
There’s also a bit of a retro feel about the whole thing. Rani Sharone has composed the perfect synth driven soundtrack that sounds just like Nightmare on Elm Street or similar. On top of that, the animation is old school acrylic and very psychedelic. The characters and drawings are actually fairly simple, almost like doodles on the inside of a teenager’s school notebook, and that just makes it all the more charming. The short cut scenes of the lung and ear diagrams were also fantastic.
The animation combined with the perfectly dirty, yet witty sense of humour give the film that MTV edge that seems to be missing from film and television at the moment. It reminded me of Daria (she seems to even have a cameo at one point) or Freaks and Geeks; two one-of-a-kind television shows from the ’90s.
Watch this. It’s a dirty, well-paced, nostalgic, and whisical piece of animated goodness…