“My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea” is an audacious animated film from graphic novelist Dash Shaw that has been described as, “John Hughes fused with The Poseidon Adventure.” That’s not far off the mark. It’s a bravura, bizarro-land high school disaster flick, unlike anything else you’re likely to see this year.
Animated using a colourful hodgepodge of drawings, paintings and collage, it’s the strange story of sophomores Dash (voice of Jason Schwartzman) and his best friend Assaf (voice of Reggie Watts), writers for the newspaper at Tides High School. A wedge is pushed between the junior Woodward and Bernsteins when editor Verti (voice of Maya Rudolph) offers Assaf solo assignments. To even the score Dash writes a fictitious story about his former friend’s erectile dysfunction. He is suspended and when he uncovers an actual story—their school isn’t built to code—no one will believe him.
No one, that is, until an earthquake strikes, toppling the school into the Pacific trapping everyone inside. Racing to escape the crumbling building Dash and Assaf plus a crafty lunch lady (Susan Sarandon) and school-know-it-all Mary (Lena Dunham), must battle sharks, jellyfish, senior gangs, electrocution and more.
“My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea” startles with its originality. Visually it’s an eye-bending exercise in collage while the script’s dry wit and explorations of high school hierarchy are bang on the money. High school is about a balance of power and how better to test friendships and power dynamics than to throw everyone into a potentially life threatening situation?