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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea is a sometimes-edgy animated disaster film set in a cliffside California high school. Written and directed by graphic novelist Dash Shaw, the movie features some scenes of violence: Teens are injured, drowned, and killed by sharks (one is even decapitated); they also fight each other. Strong language includes "s--t" and "ass," and teen characters kiss and talk about sex/sex-related topics (dating, virginity, etc.). There's some drug use/references (pill consumption, pot smoking, discussion of dealers etc.). While the characters certainly aren't perfect, many are resourceful and persistent, and the movie has themes of friendship and teamwork. Well-known actors including Lena Dunham, Jason Schwartzman, and Maya Rudolph provide the voices.
What's the story?
MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA is an animated disaster story that follows nerdy student journalists/best friends Dash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) and Assaf (Reggie Watts). They're writing partners for their California high school newspaper until their editor, Verti (Maya Rudolph), assigns a cover story just to Assaf. Dash figures out that the principal forged the paperwork for the school's new addition moments before an earthquake pushes the building into a sinkhole in the Pacific. The school is stacked vertically, with the freshman floor on the lowest level and the seniors on top. So Dash -- who's mad at Assaf and Verti's blossoming connection -- leads a small squad, including the lunch lady (Susan Sarandon) and popular cheerleader Mary (Lena Dunham) -- to relative safety on the upper floors. To get there, they must swim and climb their way through occasionally shark-infested, corpse-strewn waters.
Is it any good?
Unabashedly trippy and weird, this animated coming-of-age disaster film is darkly comedic, and, like the catastrophe it portrays, impossible not to get sucked into. Graphic novelist-turned-animator Dash Shaw knows how to create an absurd, hilarious, and unforgettable movie that's likely to become a cult favorite with cool kids, film geeks, and anyone who appreciates a well-crafted, if psychedelic, animated feature. Dash isn't exactly an endearing protagonist at first, but he grows on viewers as he tries to convince others to push their way up to the senior floor -- and possibly to freedom -- before everyone and everything sinks.
Many of My Entire High School Is Sinking Into the Sea's social-status and doomsday jokes might go over the head of younger audiences, but older viewers will find them laugh-out-loud funny. Like most high school comedies, it's probably easier to appreciate when you're done with that stage in life. But there's a lot for teens to enjoy as well, particularly the various cliques, the surprisingly observant lunch lady, and the senior cult that forms around a senior golden boy. But the bloodthirsty sharks and the unmitigated danger of the ocean don't distinguish between the popular and the unpopular. So the unlikely crew of Dash, Assaf, Verti, Mary, the lunch lady, and a few other stragglers prove that, with enough will and resolve, you can overcome even the unlikeliest of disasters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea. Is it necessary to the story? Why or why not? How would the impact be different if the movie was live action instead of animated?
Who do you think the movie's target audience is? How can you tell? Do you think there should be more animated movies that appeal to high schoolers rather than younger audiences?
- In theaters: April 14, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: January 23, 2018
- Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Lena Dunham, Reggie Watts
- Director: Dash Shaw
- Studio: GKIDS
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 75 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some images of peril, sexual references and drug material
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