FoofDeckman’s review published on Letterboxd:
This movie is a strange one. All of the elements surrounding it, point to this movie being right up my alley. The majority of people who've seen this seem to really enjoy it, it looked like it had a fun animation style and even Lord & Miller are involved to some degree. I unfortunately just found this movie to be bland and a waste of potential.
I feel this is a good example of when people use the argument "style over substance". While I do think this has substance with it's main commentary on how connected we are to our devices and how we should detach and become connected with those around us, which is a good lesson. I do think the editing and stylistic decisions held me back from getting into the movie as a whole. This movie is overly stylized to the point where I found it obnoxious to some degree. It's so overly flashy and in your face to where it feels almost overstimulating.
This movie really wants to be "hip", but never feels like it knows how to. Instead they decide to push this editing to the extreme and it never falls into place to where I think they wanted it to fall. Most of the time when something goofy happens the movie will have floating 2D animation mixed in with the 3D style. Most of the time I just found it to be a lazy excuse to spell out how certain characters were feeling. For example if a character found something adorable, there would be a floating 2D heart next to them. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for most of the times it's used, but I can't help but find that 2D/3D crossover to be a waste of creativity as almost nothing good is done with it.
Sometimes when the movie had a funny joke the movie would freeze frame and overlay the frame with 2D animation with someone yelling or doing something goofy. There's other times where the movie would use filters from the character's phones, the joke is "haha that looks silly". Right off the bat they edit this one character screaming with a Youtube video of a monkey screaming. The main character starts narrating and says, "yeah he kind of sounds like this one Youtube video" and then they edit together a clip of the person screaming mixed with the monkey. I know this is meant to be from the perspective of the main character who's this "film nerd", but it feels so obnoxious and out of touch to me. The entire joke is that he sounds like the Youtube video and just incase you didn't get it right off the bat they spend the next 30 seconds editing the clips together just to make sure you get the joke. It's like when one of my friends shows me a video that they find funny and I don't get it so I just pretend to laugh. Except in this case I didn't laugh cause it wasn't funny and there wasn't a friend involved. I know this is a really specific joke to point out, but a lot of the funnier jokes in this movie are ruined by something similar to what makes this joke not work for me.
On the other hand, this movie has parts that were meant to relate to "internet culture" and they felt out of place entirely. There's so many jokes that were out of date even before the movie came out. There's a few seconds where they play the Nyan cat music and I felt like I was going to have some sort of flashback to elementary school. This movie heavily relies on referential style humor. The joke is "oh this reminds me of this" and then you're meant to laugh cause you know what they're talking about. There's tons of movie references, where the punch line is "oh I've seen that movie". It feels like it's going for a bunch of different humor styles, but it either works or it's the type of humor you get second hand embarrassment from.
Whenever movies cover social media and modern technically as a concerning topic, it usually comes off as embarrassing and out of touch. This movie sort of has that feeling, but it definitely has more heart put into it than something similar to it. Someone was definitely trying to make a fun animated movie with a message, but the pieces didn't meet correctly. This movie feels like it has a soul to it and was someone's actual vision. When the movie works, I had a good time and I was able to laugh at the majority of jokes throughout this movie. When it didn't work, I couldn't help but roll my eyes.
I know It probably seems like I hate the humor in this movie, but for the good majority of this movie I found myself laughing. Whenever the movie wasn't being embarrassing, it did have some really good one-liners. While I wouldn't call the humor well paced, I'd say there is enough good humor spread throughout the entire movie. There's lots of great visual humor, the first half of the mall scene I really enjoyed before it got ruined by "well known toy brand".
The animation style is fine for the most part. I found a lot of the environments to be overly polished and too bright looking. This goes back to me saying the visuals were almost overstimulating. There's so much color in this movie and it sort of washes out some of the other colors in certain shots. This is especially noticeable during the last 30 minutes of the movie with all the bright colors of this building. I liked the way the movie was able to mix 2D and 3D in certain scenarios. I thought those styles looked visually nice and I could see it working in theory.
Sony really likes to shove licensed music into every one of their movies and this is no exception. Licensed music in movies isn't necessarily a bad thing and can work if used correctly. In this the music felt really on the nose in what it was trying to convey and took me out of the movie during certain scenes. Whenever a licensed song started playing I was forcibly reminded that this was a Sony movie and we can't just have the score. Speaking of the score, I actually really liked it. It went for this electronic/orchestral thing and it reminded me a lot of the Tron Legacy score for most of it, although not AS good.
The performances all around were good. Everyone was really charismatic and really brought life into these characters. I particularly liked Oliva Coleman, who plays the villain in the movie. She seems like a really nice person and to see her play this goofy evil character was something I didn't expect from her. Michael Rianda who played the little boy I found fun. He sounded like a middle aged adult in this 12 year old's body, which I found to be really amusing as well. Eric Andre was the weakest for me, I found him to be very hit or miss. (Sorry Parker)
This review is all over the place. I watched this movie a little over an hour ago and I'm already forgetting the majority of the movie. It's a fairly bland kids movie, but I could see my younger self really enjoying something like this. This movie is pretty harmless and there's worse things you could show kids, but at the same time you could also show kids something better. I guess I'd recommend it, it's on Netflix and it's not much of a time investment.
2021 Reviews: boxd.it/aMx3a