We hadn’t even seen a preview for this. A late-2018 animated Spider-man reboot movie sounded like the most skippable thing in the world, but it came out the same week as all the year-end lists, which kept awarding it the Best Animated Feature. Admittedly Ralph Breaks The Internet and Incredibles 2 both suffered from sequelitis, and The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl was too quirky to win awards, but I still didn’t expect some comic-book Spider-man re-reboot to show up and trounce the competition, so we went to see what the fuss was about.
The fuss: this movie is faithful to the comics to the point of emulating their printing quirks: the shading dots, the color layers slightly out of registration, making me feel like I’m supposed to be wearing 3D glasses whenever I pay too much attention to the edges. It’s a Peter Parker Spider-Man back-story re-boot but also extremely self-referential about being this, and contains multiple Parkers and reboots. No wonder it’s from one of the Lego Movie guys, but much wonder that it was allowed to be created on an obviously high budget and released in theaters during Peak Marvel Universe. We (highly) approve.
Not my favorite kind of thing stylistically (ugly-looking party movie with improv dialogue) but narratively very exciting. While mysterious comet passes overhead and power goes out, partygoers venture to house down the street but always end up at the same house… or an interdimensional alternate-reality version of that house. Sliding Doors is mentioned alongside quantum theory and Schroedinger’s Cat as they figure out what’s happening, heh. Gets really great in the second half, and ends with Emily wandering from house to house until she finds a reality she likes, one where all the party friends are getting along nicely, then she nails that house’s Emily in the face and takes her place. Neat twist when the version your movie is following turns out to be the evil one.
Unexpectedly for an indifferently-shot indie movie where the only actor I recognized was Nicholas Brendon from Buffy (although his character claims instead to have appeared on astral-event series Roswell), the writer/director’s previous movie was Rango, and he worked on the Pirates of the Carribean movies, from which he brought Laurie Maher, who plays Emily’s boyfriend’s ex. The boyfriend Maury Sterling was in astral-event series Extant, and another actress wrote/directed astral-event movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Emily herself is married to the star of Jane The Virgin, which Katy was watching downstairs.
Feels like it’s trying too hard to be a cult hit, and the pacing is often weird, with our somnambulist hero Dave always moving and speaking slower than you’d expect, and its universe and logic seem simultaneously under- and over-developed (maybe since it’s an incomplete adaptation of the source comic), but overall a damned fun flick, unlike anything else out there, and a welcome return to weird-movie-making for Coscarelli ten years after Bubba Ho-Tep.
Attempts at plot summary would be ridiculous, but here are some people and things.
Tall Man as dark-eyed priest:
Basement meat monster summoned by Obscure Object snake girl, destroyed by Dr. Marconi phone call:
Paul Giamatti as viewer-surrogate reporter:
Glynn Turman as evidence-destroying, hero-threatening rogue cop:
Church of Dave & John: clothing and masks optional
Dave nearly falls into pit of Korrok before monster is destroyed by humanity-saving suicide-bomber dog: