Sunday, August 20, 2017

In 'Dave Made a Maze', a Guy Gets Lost in the Cardboard Labyrinth He Built and His Friends Have to Rescue Him

Dave Made a Maze centers on the eponymous Dave (Nick Thune), who has the habit of eagerly staring out projects but never gets around of finishing them.  One day, he finally starts building something in the middle of his living room which he wants to see through till the end – a labyrinth made of cardboard.  Unfortunately, he finds himself getting lost inside it before it’s done.  Dave gets stuck in it for days, while his girlfriend (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) and friends (Adam Busch, James Urbaniak, etc.) initially think it’s ridiculous that he can’t find his way out.  But when they proceed to enter the cardboard maze to fish him out – in spite of Dave telling them that they shouldn’t – they discover to their astonishment that it’s much more spacious and complex in the inside.  More than that, it actually has booby traps and living creatures inside – even a Minotaur!  Now, Dave and friends have to figure out of way of escaping it before they get trapped in it forever or the Minotaur gets to them.

This movie is directed and written by a Bill Watterson.  I’m not sure if he’s the same Bill Watterson that created Calvin and Hobbes, one of the greatest comic strips ever, but that seems to be the case (I checked the Rotten Tomatoes page of this movie, and the Bill Watterson involved in this movie has the photo of the cartoonist… so, yeah, probably the same guy).  It’s a solid screenwriting and directorial debut for him.  But this movie isn’t necessarily as brilliant as Calvin and Hobbes – far from it.
The film’s concept is absolutely intriguing and unique.  But, beyond the whimsy, the movie itself isn’t particularly remarkable.  The script is a bit shabby.  There’s a point where the film is seemingly trying to be profoundly metaphorical, but I don’t think it hit the mark.

Still, there’s enjoyment to be had.  Its sense of quirkiness is very winning.  It isn’t spectacular, but the visuals resulting from a cardboard world are compelling.  The goofy and weird elements that the characters encounter in the maze will elicit amused smiles.  It’s not all cute stuff either.  There are legitimate dangers as well.  Deaths happen.  But what’s amusing about the violence is that it’s cartoonish – gore and blood are made up of party confetti and the like.
Overall, despite its weaknesses, Dave Made a Maze is fun.  Though it doesn’t quite have any worthwhile rewards to offer, it draws enough energy from its silly but appealing premise to justify a feature length runtime.

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