Eli’s review published on Letterboxd:
We come to it at last: the Rick & Mortyfication of science fiction, in form, function and outlook.
Talks a good game about randomness yet is oppressively schematic: each metaphor laboriously artificial, overdetermined and overexplained, each joke and beat and cutaway and special effect perceptibly prefigured by the dozens of drafts and spreadsheets and test screenings that birthed it, in much the same way as the plot’s Rube Goldberg construction and reams of exposition hidden under tricksy cuts and loud CG mask the broadly sketched middlebrow family drama and pop-psych ruminations on postmodernity at its core. No gag let alone moment of earnest catharsis can be truly spontaneous; all must exist in a dense network of Plot Points and Epic Callbacks that ensure no one, not one audience member, may miss the fact that those wacky Danielses aced Screenwriting 101. Look out for their Disney production by the end of the decade.
To be clear: I think using the parallel universe concept as a vehicle to explore millennial nihilism is a terrific idea, but the film is so much more committed to belabored artifice - to cutesy forced affectation and neat little resolutions projected in phony hugeness - than it is to actually engaging with that thesis on the level of genuine introspection, social awareness or philosophical substance. The arbitrary non-symbolism of the “bagel” gag juxtaposed with the film’s determination to keep coming back to it like it’s something incredibly revealing (or like talking about breakfast food items is intrinsically hilarious) says it all. Maybe because it's SO RANDOM, or maybe because a bagel visually resembles a butthole?? That’s about on the level of what the Davidses appear to find “subtle”, “deep” and “wildly funny”.
It’s terribly clever and it’s all a big nothing!