A stunningly innovative Netflix short combines music, a story, and surreal imagery to show an artist looking for love. Here is evidence that it is possible to make something very familiar sing in a way that seems new, humorous, cozy, and thrilling.
The Netflix animated feature “Entergalactic” features a plot straight out of the Rom-Com Playbook: our hero falls in love with a woman who is almost his next-door neighbor. With a finger on the pulse of millennial and Gen Z culture as experienced by young Black professionals, the story is told, however, with some of the most stunning and memorably trippy visuals I’ve seen in a long time, complemented by a steady diet of infectious music by the film’s co-creator and star, Kid Cudi.
It was written by Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi and Kenya Barris and produced by Fletcher Moules. It is a long-form video promoting Kid Cudi’s forthcoming album called “Entergalactic.” The combination of music and story works incredibly well as we follow a cast of amusing, endearing, sympathetic, and well-drawn characters.
Kid Cudi plays Jabari, a street artist who recently secured a significant deal to turn his graffiti creation “Mr. Rager” into a series of comic books in “Entergalactic,” which is set in a New York bursting with neon-rich shades of purple, maroon, yellow, and orange. Jabari meets up with Carmen shortly after settling into his new, large loft apartment in Manhattan.
Carmen’s eyes light up when she hears about Jabari’s new comic book deal, and she offers that they go out for a drink immediately. Jabari does indeed hook up with Carmen, but he makes it obvious the next day that they should be friends. It’s time for Jabari’s life to move on to the next chapter.
We follow Jabari’s adventures as he gets high with his friends (as visuals show him riding his bicycle up and away into the pink skies), works on “Mr. Rager,” and strikes up a relationship with a beautiful photographer named Meadow (Jessica Williams) who lives right next door.
Kid Cudi songs like “By Design” (with Andre Benjamin), “Do What I Want,” and “Willing to Trust” (with Ty Dolla $ign) serves as the musical cue (When his pal learns that Jabari is exploring a relationship with a neighbor, he relates a ridiculously amusing anecdote about how he hooked up with a woman in his building’s laundry room. If the movie were to be released in theatres, that sequence would be enough to give it a strict R rating.)
The plot of “Entergalactic” adheres to the rom-com formula even as it continues to amaze us with inventive visuals, frequently including the myriad ways that light may refract when bouncing off and through windows, a glass of wine, the streets of Chinatown, you name it. The typical love scene, rainy walks, a sex montage, and a Big Misunderstanding that might be quickly resolved with a single chat are all included.
One of the things I adored about “Entergalactic” is how, to a certain extent, the main characters resemble their voice actors. (The drug dealer Jimmy is similar to Timothée Chalamet, and Carmen is a perfect replica of Laura Harrier.) It somehow makes them appear more “genuine,” lovable, and unique. One of the best-animated films I’ve seen this year is this one.
Don’t be fooled by Entergalactic’s psychedelic title and opening images, which suggest at least some visual creativity. Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi’s new album of the same name has an animated video that shows a day in the life of a young street artist named Jabari.
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