Review by James Mahon
Adult animation normally appears in the form of explicit and irreverent comedy series. There’s nothing wrong with that – see Bojack Horseman. However, Entergalactic (Fletcher Moules, 2022) is one of the first feature length animations that seems to possess the intrinsic creativity of animation, combined with a real emotional heart, that is normally exclusive to real life filmmaking. It is aesthetically beautiful, musically hypnotic and delicately raw in its depiction of love and contemporary living.
The film centres around Jabari (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi), a former street artist who has recently moved into a Manhattan apartment after he’s been hired to turn his personal creation ‘Mr Rager’ into a comic book. After a spontaneous meeting with his photographer neighbour Meadow ( Jessica Williams) a deep connection develops. And that is essentially it, Entergalactic is at its core a love story. The plot seems almost irrelevant, it’s pretty obvious what happens, conforming to the general formula of romantic films – honeymoon phase, breakup and emotional reunion. Yet, the essence of the film isn’t really about the storyline.
Fundamental to this is the animation. It has what I’d describe as an imperfect realism. Rather than being religiously obligated to recreating everything in pitch-perfect detail, it has an inventiveness to it that allows the characters to be imbued by a deep sense of individuality. The aim, as production designer Robh Ruppel stated, was to create a ‘moving painting’. With the help of DNEG animation everything was hand painted in Photoshop and hand positioned by every animator. From Jabari cycling in Manhattan, to eating at a burger joint, ordinary film interludes are elevated to something truly stunning. New York itself, particularly Manhattan, is vividly authentic and real. Added to this, is the colour palate of the film, the texture of every scene has a vibrancy and pop – the dominant background colours of darkish blue and purple, makes the film feel like it’s an acid trip experience that you’ve just imagined. Consequently, the actual weed and edible vignette trips are even more psychedelic and transcendental.
Yet, the music is the central component that holds everything together. After all, the film is a paired release with Scott ‘Kid Cudi’ Mescudi’s latest album of the same name. The writers Maurice Williams and Ian Edelman made a conscious effort to connect the emotional heart of the film with Mescudi’s music. It pays off, the soundtrack takes over as the main actor for key sections of the movie. Certain songs such as ‘Do What I Want’ and ‘Angel’, possess this musical sensuality that just evolves naturally from the interactions between Jabari and Meadow. To top it off, the main theme tune is a soundscape of pure sensation and feeling. This is definitely the best form of album promotion that I’ve witnessed.
The film takes a swipe at the increasing overreach of capitalism in all areas of our lives. The gamification of romance through dating apps, ( Tinder is renamed as Stush) or the corporatisation of artists’ work and intention. Yet these critiques are subtly interwoven into the fabric of the film, and never feel artificial or heavy handed.
Ultimately, Fletcher Moules and Kid Cudi, with the technical brilliance of animators and writers, have created a moving portrait of love between two multidimensional, complex characters, and written a love story about New York City itself. It is an awe-inspiring work of art.