A pop-tastic and wholly demented animated adventure has zookeepers tasked with safeguarding endangered mythical creatures from warmongers intent on exploiting their powers for destruction.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
Filmmaker Dash Shaw and collaborator Jane Samborski seem to be in no great rush to tell a good tale; it took them six years to complete their animated feature debut and Sundance hit, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea. After another long stint animating, the pair follow up that striking debut with a truly gonzo new concept.
A pair of new-agey lovers (voiced by Michael Cera and Louisa Kraus) mistakenly wander into the titular cryptozoo, a sanctuary of sorts where mythological creatures are housed à la Jurassic Park. Lauren Grey (Lake Bell) is a cryptozoologist hired by an heiress to capture cryptids and protect them from a warmonger intent on weaponising them against a burgeoning counterculture movement. Most powerful of all the creatures is the mystical Baku, a dream-eating chimera-elephant hybrid whose supernatural powers may just upset the very fabric of reality in the wrong hands.
Funny, surreal, sweet and wildly inventive, Cryptozoo is a spectacular display of old school visual techniques and styles. This anti-patriarchy toon is a smorgasbord of psychedelia that plays like some barmy fusion of Yellow Submarine and the illustrated world of Métal Hurlant magazine. — AT
“Adult Swim meets Planet of the Apes in this outrageous though deeply felt animated plea for acceptance and compassion... Employing a rudimentary hand-drawn visual style, director Dash Shaw’s delightfully offbeat creation is based in mythology yet grounded in reality.” — Todd Jorgenson, Cinemalogue