When 2017 started, I wasn’t the most optimistic about the animation slate. Movies like Boss Baby and The Nut Job 2 didn’t do a lot to excite me. My hope was some indies would come and save the day. Fortunately, GKIDS latest offering My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea may be just such a film. It’s one of those indies I know won’t be for everyone but I really enjoyed it.
My Entire High School is directed by Dash Shaw and has a rough graffiti-like quality to the animation. Some will find it too juvenile but I liked it. It was very indie but still felt fresh and inventive.
The narrator of My Entire High School is a boy named Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and his best friend Assaf (Reggie Watts), who both work on the school newspaper together. The two boys get in a quarrel over an article, and a girl named Verti (Maya Rudolph), but that’s just the initial premise. Soon Dash finds out the school is built on an earthquake fault and it is sinking quite rapidly into the ocean.
It is then that the film becomes a riff on disaster movies as Dash, Assaf, Verti, a girl named Mary (Lena Dunham), and Lunch Lady Lorraine (Susan Sarandon) hack their way up each floor of their high school trying to get to rescue. They face all kinds of challenges including fire, sharks, and anarchists.
The thing that makes My Entire High School work is the funny script and inventive visuals. It’s a very dry wit that you might get in a Wes Anderson movie or a film like Napoleon Dynamite. Dash reminded me of Greg from Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl or Juno from Juno. It’s sarcastic and just borders on unlikable but somehow saves itself. I laughed a lot at the dialogue and crazy antics.
The voice cast was solid with Jason Schwartzman being tailor-made for the part. I also liked Maya Rudolph as Verti. They all sound like they are having fun and are invested in the project, which I appreciate.
But I give most of the credit of this film working to Dash Shaw who wrote, directed, and produced the film. It’s a labor of love that is quickly paced and full of inventive animation and jokes. It’s also very unpredictable, with what the students will face on each floor of the school, while still working within the constructs of tried-and-true formulas like parody, teen movie, and disaster films.
Despite the high school sinking into the sea, it still captures the insane clicks and perils of modern day high school. It made me glad I am very far removed from that whole scene. However, the film never takes itself too seriously which I enjoyed.
If you are open to new and different styles of animation, and a more adult story (PG-13), I think you will like My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea. It’s a long title to a fun movie. The only real downside is the harsh language and sarcastic tone, both of which may bother some more sensitive viewers.
Give it a shot! Support independent movie theaters in your area! Try something new and different! And if you are worried about Lena Dunham, she isn’t in the movie that much. Just go and enjoy this unique film!
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden