MY EN­TIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINK­ING INTO THE SEA, an­i­mated teen com­edy, PG-13, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts,

Pasatiempo - - MOVING IMAGES - Daria, Sink­ing Into the Sea’s

Dash (voiced by Ja­son Schwartz­man), a high-school sopho­more who re­cently got over an acne prob­lem, is an as­pir­ing writer who grav­i­tates to­ward high drama and pur­ple prose. As re­porters for their school news­pa­per, he and his best friend, As­saf (Reg­gie Watts), are known to write hor­ror sto­ries about haunted lock­ers for lack of more ex­cit­ing fare on slow news days — and they al­ways write as a team. When their ed­i­tor, Verti (Maya Ru­dolph), as­signs As­saf a se­ri­ous story of his own, the jeal­ousy-prone Dash ex­acts re­venge and winds up in de­ten­tion, where he stum­bles across pa­per­work in­di­cat­ing that their high school — lo­cated on a Cal­i­for­nia cliff­side — was built on a fault line. The build­ing and every­one in it is in im­mi­nent dan­ger of sink­ing into the sea when the next earth­quake hits. Be­cause Dash has a wild imag­i­na­tion and anger is­sues, no one lis­tens to him when he tries to alert stu­dents and teach­ers to the im­pend­ing calamity, which takes place soon enough. As the wa­ter level rises, Dash, As­saf, Verti, pop­u­lar-girl Mary (Lena Dun­ham), and Lunch Lady Lor­raine (Su­san Saran­don) must fight their way to dry land on the fourth floor.

As one of the char­ac­ters points out, the story has the logic of a dream. My En­tire High School Sink­ing Into the Sea is writ­ten and di­rected by comic-book au­thor and artist Dash Shaw, who uses a wide range of vis­ual styles in the telling of this en­ter­tain­ing and even ad­mirably deep teen dis­as­ter com­edy — in­clud­ing black-out­lined Lynda Barry-es­que peo­ple, im­pres­sion­is­tic back­grounds drip­ping in lush color, Squig­gle­vi­sion, and kalei­do­scope ef­fects. The tone seems in­spired, at least in part, by the 1990s MTV an­i­mated show known for its droll ap­proach to high­school so­cial hi­er­ar­chy and power-wield­ing teach­ers. But where Daria was fueled by Gen­er­a­tion X cyn­i­cism and ap­a­thy, char­ac­ters are very much con­nected to the world out­side of them­selves in some­times-un­ex­pected ways. They are con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­ment as well as the coun­try’s crum­bling pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture, the dis­tinc­tions be­tween dif­fer­ent kinds of writ­ing, and what it means to be a cer­tain kind of per­son. What makes some­one kind, or re­spon­si­ble, or complicit?

As the kids and Lunch Lady Lor­raine be­come in­creas­ingly im­per­iled, they must see past their pre­con­ceived no­tions about one an­other in or­der to trust each other. This means that, among other dis­cov­er­ies, Verti un­der­stands Mary as some­thing more than a pop­u­lar gym­nast, Dash rec­og­nizes that he can be a self-cen­tered hot­head, and all of them get to know the lunch lady as a com­plex per­son with an ad­ven­ture­some past. None of this is heavy-handed or moral­is­tic, but rather gen­uinely sweet, com­ing as it does against a hu­mor­ous back­drop of car­toon teenagers drown­ing and dy­ing. — Jen­nifer Levin

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