Best friends Dash (voice of Jason Schwartzman) and Assaf (voice of Reggie Watts, "The Yes Men Fix the World") have worked hard on their 'High School Survivor's Guide' for the Tides High Gazette only to find they can't get anyone to read the paper. Dash becomes even more upset when Assaf begins taking up with Gazette editor Verti (voice of Maya Rudolph) and begins a smear campaign against the two, but when he finds paperwork in the school basement uncovering Principal Grimm's (voice of Thomas Jay Ryan, "Henry Fool") collusion in building an auditorium that negates the school's earthquake resistance, the three outsiders band together as disaster strikes and Dash watches "My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea."
Graphic novelist Dash Shaw's first feature animation is a hilarious pastiche referencing everything from video games to "Scooby Doo" to "The Poseidon Adventure." Shaw's animation (drawn old school in partner Jane Samborski's kitchen) is best described as colored in Sharpie line drawings, but this too veers all over the map, featuring "South Park" style paper cutouts, zoetrope effects, "Ren and Stimpy" inspired stills, Wes Andersonesque section drawings and filmed overlays of water, fire and psychedelic lights à la the old feature presentation color swirl (a pre-credit warns of stroboscopic effects as well). It's the animated version of a schlocky, low budget disaster movie with cheesy effects, delightful from start to finish.
Tides High School is both typical and not, its principal sporting stubble and an eye patch, its lunch lady a pirate's head scarf (both explained when the going gets rougher). Cliques are evident at the onset, popular girl Gretchen (voice of Louisa Krause, "Martha Marcy May Marlene") contrasted with outsider, Mary (voice of Lena Dunham), school stoner Drake (voice of Alex Karpovsky, HBO's 'Girls') even lower in the pecking order. Literal class divisions become apparent after the inevitable earthquake, the sinking school's floors revealed to be divided by grade, seniors ruling on top like Donkey Kong. The heart of the school is its cafeteria embodied by the maternal hardass with that unusual history, Lunch Lady Lorraine (voice of Susan Sarandon).
Once the school tips off its cliff into the ocean, Dash, Assaf and Verti battle to higher ground. There are shark attacks, underwater escapes and elevator shafts to be climbed. There is self sacrifice and a senior cult led by Brent Daniels (voice of John Cameron Mitchell, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"). Shaw wraps with an homage to the Peanuts crew.
"My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea" is unlike anything you've seen before, even as you note one influence after another. Shaw's looney tunes imagination has found the perfect outlet.
Robin also gives "My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea" a B.
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