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Review - Dave Made a Maze

By midlandsmovies, Oct 6 2017 02:43PM

Dave Made A Maze (2017) Dir. Bill Waterson

I quickly came to the conclusion with only 20 minutes gone that Dave Made a Maze was the “most hipster film I’ve ever seen” which may (or may not) fill you with dread regarding this new high-concept comedy film. The story shows how after a weekend left alone Dave (Nick Thune) builds a cardboard fort/maze in his living room and when his girlfriend Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) returns, she invites some friends around to help him escape after he gets “lost”.

Strangely, once they’re inside, the maze is in fact a huge fantasy interior with paper-based monsters and the explorers attempt a rescue yet are surprised at each corner they turn. A wacky and zany “Paperchase” of a movie, there are nods to Indiana Jones and The Goonies (booby traps) whilst origami cranes and tissue paper ‘blood’ continue its surreal elements. However, the film’s humour swung from low brow dick punches to self congratulatory smugness – neither which pushed my buttons.

An early musical sequence inside a keyboard room made me think that the film would in fact make a good 3-4 minute music video – which is why the trailer is great – but it’s an awfully long slog for a confused metaphor about creativity, struggling with life and feeling “lost”.

Back to the story, a film-making crew also attempts to document the journey which reflects the artificial nature of the expedition as they invade personal moments and create their own narrative journey. Whether you feel it could be a metaphor for filmmaking itself – its home-made nature, the dead-ends faced when trying to finish a goal and so forth – the film takes away any ambiguity by simply telling that to you. Via an interview, the film is far too on the nose with a cardboard structure used for both its location and its story.

However, one of the few genuine laughs came as the gang were turned into paper-mache marionettes and the film finally pokes fun at itself with the sarcastic dialogue exclaiming “This was only a matter of time”. But despite that and a chat about beards it’s still mostly blissfully unaware of its hipster clichés, confirmed with the inclusion of suitably quirky animations bookending the film.

A few positives include the unique mix of absurd and ludicrous situations with a tremendous design aesthetic. Optical illusions combine with gorgeous cardboard creations whilst the allusions to ancient tales – historical mazes, mythology and a Minotaur – added some much needed depth. At times it also harks to Tarsem Singh’s The Cell (2000) where we physically explore “the mind” and come across random and strange subconscious personified.

In the hands of a Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze, the wacky idea of Dave Made a Maze could have worked but there’s little humanity in this film and it’s less the mind-maze of Eternal Sunshine than it is The Crystal Maze in terms of quality and execution.


Midlands Movies Mike

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