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- Written and directed by Dash Shaw
- Featuring the voices of Lake Bell, Michael Cera and Alex Karpovsky
- Classification R; 95 minutes
- Available on demand, including digital TIFF Lightbox, starting Aug. 20
Adult-targeted animation is a tricky genre to nail. Although, I suppose the existence of Adult Swim, the Cartoon Network’s mature-targeted block of programming that’s spawned a genre unto itself, proves that there’s a burgeoning market and a wealth of gonzo-minded talent. If the words “Adult Swim” are completely foreign to you, though, then you likely won’t get much out of Cryptozoo, writer-director Dash Shaw’s endlessly trippy comedy/fantasy/drama featuring all manner of animated chaos.
After debuting at this past January’s Sundance Film Festival, Shaw’s film scored acclaim for its defiantly hand-drawn animation – especially striking in an era of all-CGI-all-the-time cartoons. But its narrative substance – a plot involving mythical creatures, evil game hunters, and kind-hearted scientists hoping to preserve the natural order – felt like a prototypical Sundance indie pumped full of fantastical steroids.
There is a certain charm to Shaw’s deadpan comedy – and I genuinely appreciated what I can only assume was an intentional callback to Michael Cera’s fate in 2013′s This Is the End – but one visit to the Cryptozoo was enough for me.
In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a Critic’s Pick designation across all coverage.