Taking some of the most stylised and strangely offbeat cartoon drawings I’ve seen in some time and making a disaster movie parody out of them, My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea (MEHSSITS) is a bit of a niche hit and miss comedy send-up of its source material. I think disaster movie fans will get lots out of it, but as a straight-up comedy, it’s more low-key clever than laugh out loud funny.

The disasters faced

A sinking school, earthquakes, sharks, lord of flies gang wars, being electrocuted, drowning, falling off of lots of scaffolding and perhaps Lunchlady Lorraine’s cooking!

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The art itself is usually a wildly colourful palette but the shadow work is fantastic

The story

When the greedy headmaster goes against building code to build a new roof on a school, the drilling causes the faultline directly under it to awake and trigger an Earthquake landslide that sends the school out to sea. As it sinks floor by floor, our gang of survivors must escape before it entombs them. It’s a closely followed send-up of The Poseidon Adventure but frequently plays homage to other disaster movies too. Our main five characters involve the dorkiest love triangle committed to film. Assaf and Verti want to start dating but Assaf’s best friend Dash, our lead, feels left out and angry over being not included. Popular bimbo Mary is vile to everyone but just really wants to have friends and Lunchlady Lorraine seems to double up as a fighting warrior and caring mother figure whose been drugging the school kids for years. Spot the tropes and enjoy them as they’ll be exploited throughout the film.

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The use of giant flames in the frame is inspired

Why is it worth watching?

MEHSSITS works on several levels but first and foremost is works as an upturn of the disaster movie genre. The story closely follows The Poseidon Adventure as our band of heroes has to climb up the school to reach the top and escape – with a floor filling up with water every 10 minutes or so. Dash spends the entire film narrating the disaster as epically as possible and reacting completely over the top. Assaf is trapped under a bookcase and instead of just moving it he exclaims “Oh no! I’ll have to amputate your leg!” It’s this kind of comedy where its always the extreme option a disaster movie loves to go down that the film pokes fun at such as the shark attack, the underwater breathing segment and the “just when you think its all over – BAM!” moments. Lorraine’s superhuman powers of just saving everyone at all times are perfectly convenient. Principle Grimm, our baddie, wears an eyepatch. He is a baddie after all, although even he has a Rev. Scott moment of redemption. All this is crammed into 76 minutes full of tropes and nods and it runs at such a fast pace you’ll not be bored even if the comedy itself may be hit or miss.

The effects

Possibly the most polarising aspect of MEHSSITS will be the visual design. It is crude and ugly on purpose for the most part and has this wobbling cartoon effect which means not one frame sits still. So if two people are talking, everything is moving slightly at all times and it sounds strange to say but I could see how it wears your eyes down. One thing I loved was the use of actual or CG flames placed into the drawings. They are filtered over the top or underneath so it looks really distorted size wise but it makes the fire and carnage really pop out. There are also some excellent lighting effects from using all kinds of shiny papers to make a kaleidoscope effect for some of the more trippy sequences. As for the actual drawing and animation itself, I’m still on the fence with it. It’s certainly stylised and adds to the comedic value of some of the character deaths but would a more static approach to animation worked better? Who knows.

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The films use of disaster movie tropes is its main strength and kept me entertained

The characters

I am so delighted that Susan Sarandon voices the initially grotesque but actually quite lovable Lorraine. She has a monotone growl unlike anything I’ve seen Susan do before. The other characters are fine with what they are because they all either take on an extreme version of a disaster staple (cue Asthma girl!) or an American teen drama character staple. As a result, you’ll likely be linking these characters to ones from other films, which I found fun to do.

Favourite quote

“We have to move up to the senior floor and then graduate to the roof!” Dash

Three memorable moments

  • Bye bye Brent Daniels (splat)
  • Reverent Scott parody death for Principle Grimm
  • The way the initial disaster pans up the screen in several cartoon frames all in motion

The obligatory weird moment…

The entire film is a parody but I love how when Dash gets stung by a jellyfish, plot ex machina kicks in for us to find out Lorraine drugs all the students’ lunch daily with healing enhancing remedies. So danger averted and our hero can now miraculously run around like normal again. Phew.

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The animation is retro-cute in a freeze frame but occasionally tires the eyes when in motion

The drinking game

The majority of the disasters faced in this movie are lifted from The Poseidon Adventure, the films original novel that the movie was adapted from and the Poseidon remake. Take a shot for everytime you spot a nod to them.

Conclusion

Whilst I was really entertained throughout its short stay, MEHSSITS is going to polarise you with its indie-comedy values and marmite cartoon ugliness. If you are able to look beyond that though, there’s actually a really good analysis of the disaster movie genre and some really clever mickey taking. If you are a casual disaster movie lover though, some of it might go over your head.

Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Visit the film page for more info on cast, crew, artwork and screen gallery.

If you liked My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea then you may like…

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