VOD film review: Entergalactic
Matthew Turner | On 03, Jan 2023
Director: Fletcher Moules
Cast: Kid Cudi, Jessica Williams, Timothée Chalamet, Ty Dolla Sign, Laura Harrier, Vanessa Hudgens, Christopher Abbott, Jaden Smith, Keith David, Macauley Culkin
Originally intended as an animated episode in a planned live-action anthology TV show, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi’s Entergalactic was repurposed as a 90-minute animated special that ties in with Kid Cudi’s album of the same name. To all intents and purposes, however, it is an adult-themed animated movie, a New York-set romantic drama that can be enjoyed entirely on its own merits. Indeed, it’s one of the best animated movies of 2022, and deserves to be widely celebrated as such.
Cudi voices New York twenty-something Jabari, a street artist who’s just been commissioned to turn his cult graffiti character Mr Rager (Keith David) into a comic book. With his advance from the publishers, Jabari moves into a swanky new Manhattan apartment, where he immediately falls for his cool next-door neighbour, Meadow (Jessica Williams), a photographer who’s preparing for her first exhibition.
Jabari and Meadow soon begin dating, and everything seems perfect. However, a badly timed text from Jabari’s ex-girlfriend, Carmen (Laura Harrier) – who apparently wants him back now he’s successful – threatens to throw a spanner in the works.
The gorgeous animation strongly resembles that of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, depicting a vibrant city that’s practically pulsing with colour. The film even provides its own comment on that score, with one of Meadow’s photography friends declaring: “It just gets me tight that people equate New York with gray and darkness when the city’s mad colourful. Even the people are so colourful.”
On top of that, Fletcher Moules’ direction is breathtakingly inventive, particularly when other characters, such as Jabari’s friends, tell their own stories within the film, and the animation style completely changes. One particular highlight has Jabari’s buddy, Ky (Ty Dolla Sign), telling a raunchy and very funny story that’s intended as a cautionary tale as to why you should never date your neighbours.
The adult material extends to sex scenes and sequences that involve drug-taking, but it feels natural and appropriate to the characters rather than trying to be provocative or push boundaries. On a similar note, the use of language is milder than you might initially expect, rather than indulging in swearing just because the adult rating permits it.
The voice cast – which includes the likes of Timothée Chalamet, Vanessa Hudgens and Macaulay Culkin – are superb across the board, creating immensely likeable characters, in service of a low-key but eminently relatable storyline. To that end, the script (co-written by Cudi, Kenya Barris and Ian Edelman) follows familiar rom-com beats, yet still feels fresh and original, because the characters seem so modern.
Part of that comes from the way the script captures the highs and lows of 21st-century dating – the scenes involving mobile phones are especially notable in that regard. Indeed, one of the film’s biggest gags (of which there are plenty) comes from the perfectly timed deployment of a very familiar GIF.
Throughout the film, Moules maintains both a strong sense of pace and a firm control of the film’s tone. He’s also a dab hand at staging a montage, most notably in a beautifully orchestrated sequence that depicts the initial stages of the main characters falling in love during their first few dates.
In short, this is an absolute joy from start to finish, a stunningly animated, beautifully written and superbly performed animated drama that’s utterly charming, achingly romantic and frequently laugh-out-loud funny. It’s not just one of the best animated films of 2022, it’s one of the best films of 2022 full stop. Bump it to the front of your Netflix queue immediately.