ZOOM, semi­an­i­mated com­edy/puz­zle film, not rated, The Screen, 3 chiles

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS -

What is the ul­ti­mate na­ture of re­al­ity? Is this all just a dream within a dream? Do you really expect to find the an­swer in a movie?

Christo­pher Nolan, Davids Fincher and Lynch, and Char­lie Kauf­man, among oth­ers, have pop­u­lar­ized the puz­zle film, in which char­ac­ters nav­i­gate mys­te­ri­ously por­ous bound­aries be­tween past, present, and fu­ture; truth and fic­tion; fantasy and night­mare. The tone of these movies tends to be dark and brood­ing — the sphere be­yond the look­ing glass can be a dan­ger­ous place.

Zoom, on the other hand, is dis­arm­ingly dorky Rus­sian-doll film­mak­ing, a puz­zle movie with the slick, cool ve­neer sur­gi­cally re­moved and re­placed with a vivid splash of neon — along with boob and wiener jokes.

Emma (Ali­son Pill) works at a sex-doll fac­tory, where she’s hav­ing a ca­sual fling with her co­worker Bob (Tyler Labine). (If these ac­tors’ names seem fa­mil­iar yet strange, like you know them from some­where but you can’t quite place them, it’s be­cause they ex­ist in a par­al­lel moviemak­ing uni­verse — Canada.) In her spare time, Emma sketches comic book-style he­roes and hero­ines, in­clud­ing a bustier ver­sion of her­self and a cute guy she imag­ines as her “dream man.” Her sketches of this stylish gent come to an­i­mated life, a la A-ha’s 1985 mu­sic video for “Take on Me,” and the movie be­gins to flick back and forth be­tween Emma’s live-ac­tion world and the ro­to­scoped ad­ven­tures of dream man Gael Gar­cía Ber­nal as Ed­ward, a slick film direc­tor whom the ladies just won’t leave alone. Sex scenes are am­ple in Zoom, and more of­ten than not, they’re an­i­mated. It’s all han­dled with a re­fresh­ingly light touch, though, with­out the tired at­ti­tudes Hol­ly­wood tends to trot out when sto­ries get spicy.

Ed­ward is mak­ing a movie about a Brazil­ian model named Michelle, who longs to break into novel-writ­ing and has a hard time be­ing taken se­ri­ously. The bud­ding nov­el­ist is played by Mar­i­ana Ximenes, and the sec­tions of the movie ded­i­cated to her world are once again live-ac­tion. The tran­si­tions be­tween the drawn and pho­tographed se­quences are seam­less, the script is lively, and the ac­tors are all ter­rific in ad­mit­tedly lim­ited roles.

As for the nar­ra­tive arc, well, the three cen­tral dra­mas (trou­ble at the sex-doll fac­tory, the direc­tor’s at­tempt to com­plete his film de­spite some very per­sonal prob­lems, and the model’s search for her­self) be­gin to over­lap and en­twine, and more than that should not be re­vealed — not for fear of ru­in­ing any shock­ing twist but be­cause what drama there is gets stretched pretty thin. The puz­zle isn’t really the point; the plot em­pha­sizes fluffy fun over mys­tery. While Zoom may dab­ble in valid, if sim­plis­tic, themes about body im­age and how peo­ple de­fine each other based on ap­pear­ances, it is a di­ver­tisse­ment, pure and sim­ple.

One sig­nif­i­cant de­merit must be handed out. The score, for which the ca­pa­ble turntab­list Kid Koala is cred­ited but is not solely to blame — other names ap­pear in the cred­its — is in­ex­cus­ably cheesy and an­noy­ing, punc­tu­at­ing vis­ual gags with on-the-nose sonic rasp­ber­ries and zany riffs, and sig­ni­fy­ing sus­pense with the “mis­chief’s afoot” melodies you’d expect from a Dis­ney car­toon. — Jeff Acker

Ladies and ma­genta men: Gael Gar­cía Ber­nal

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