Blu-ray Review: My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea

Thanks to computer technology and digital filmmaking, we’ve entered an amazing time for animation where so much is possible without having to hire legions of people stuck at desks with paintbrushes and piles of clear cellulose acetate. Directors don’t have to make a film that looks like a Disney flick to tell their story. While there have been successes at pushing the unconventional animation on TV with series via Adult Swim, success theatrically has been a rare event. Perhaps its a case of reluctant potential audiences outside of the festival crowd. If they’re going to spend 90 minutes in the dark, the ticket buyers want the safety of normalcy in their character design and backgrounds. My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea is a bizarre tale that’s animated to reflect the weirdness.

The new school year is starting at Tides High. Dash (The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s Jason Schwartzman) and his best friend Assaf (The Late Late Show with James Corden‘s Reggie Watts) are eager to get back to being reporters on the school newspaper. Trouble is that nobody cares about reading the paper since they get their school news from various social media feeds that can be more out there. The boys and friend Verti (Saturday Night Live‘s Maya Rudolph) attempt to jazz things up gets them in hot water. But then Dash stumbles upon a major story. Turns out the scenic school was built on a faultline. Someone forged paperwork to build a new auditorium even though this new addition might lead to horrible consequences in the case of a minor earthquake. Nobody takes the report seriously until the usual shaking under the school turns into a break in the faultline. This leads to the cliff breaking and the school plunging into the water below. It’s a strange battle for survival as the kids do their best to survive.

My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea feels like a messed up ’70s disaster film with elements of Towering Inferno, Earthquake and Poseidon Adventure merged with the normal nightmare that is high school. The intrigue of who forged document plays out in the panic of students unsure of how to get back to safety. Sure you drill for fires and earthquakes, but who has a drill for your school breaking off into the ocean and flipping over? There is a true fear that nobody will survive as they struggle around the hallways. The cliques become cults as the situation heightens with a lack of air.

Damon Dash characters look like how a smart aleck art student would draw his classmates in the margins of an introduction to Spanish textbook. The harsh ink lines mingle with watercolor swirls that don’t lull you into a sense of easy to please animation images. You know you are watching drawings being animated. Although using Jason Schwartzman voice for Dash can make you think this is Rushmore 2, the frame’s unbalanced nature won’t let you imagine Wes “Symmetrical” Anderson was secretly directing. Susan Sarandon’s Lunch Lady Lorraine steals scenes as she waxes about her role in student lives that goes beyond serving up mystery soup on Friday. There’s so much to enjoy in this tight feature film.

My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea is an astoundingly freaky animated trip into a secondary education disaster.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the unconventional animation techniques that wouldn’t cut it in a Disney film. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The levels bring out the chaos in the strange disaster. The subtitles are in English and French.

DVD with everything on the Blu-ray.

Commentary Track with Dash Shaw. He talks about the warning card and how the film came together.

The Art of My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea (13:07) has director Dash Shaw discuss going from comic book artist to animation creator. It appears in the original comic book, he was one of the students struggling to survive the catastrophe. We also meet Lead Animator Jane Samborski. She discusses techniques they use.

Short Films by Dash Shaw include “Baroness” (1:09), Cosplayers (1:10), New School Trailer (1:04), Bottomless Belly Button (1:01) and Bodyworld (1:14) include promos for several of his comic books. Many use techniques and styles used in High School.

Theatrical Trailer (1:55) shows off the disaster and animation techniques.

Shout! Factory & GKIDS present My Entire School Sinking Into the Sea. Directed by: Dash Shaw. Screenplay by: Dash Shaw. Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Reggie Watts, Maya Rudolph, Lena Dunham & Susan Sarandon. Rated: PG-13. Running Time: 76 minutes. Released: January 23, 2018.

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