Entergalactic Review: A Beautiful, Musical, Overly Familiar Love Story

Things are going pretty great for Jabari (Scott Mescudi, better known as Kid Cudi). He's recently moved into a huge apartment in Manhattan — the kind of place he would have dreamed up as wildly unrealistic as a kid. He's a gifted artist, and his graffiti creation of Mr. Rager has taken the city by storm, so much so that a comic book company has brought Jabari on board to turn his creation into their next big event. His newfound success is exciting, but Jabari is grounded in reality and isn't the kind of guy to spend his paycheck as soon as he's got it. He's deeply modest, which makes him feel likable, the kind of guy that you'd want to pick their brain over a delicious meal.

It's smooth sailing for Jabari, but he can't shake the feeling that something is missing, a nagging loneliness that keeps him up at night in his vast new space. He runs into his ex-girlfriend and the two reconnect, but Jabari is clear that she's not the woman for him — he doesn't know what he wants, but with all the big changes in his life, he's not ready to get into another relationship.

You might know where this is going. If you've guessed Jabari will indeed meet a woman who challenges this very ideal of not wanting a relationship, you'd be 100% correct. "Entergalactic," directed by Fletcher Moules and conceived by Scott Mescudi (who's music provides the film's terrific soundtrack), doesn't exactly throw you for a loop when it comes to story. This animated romantic adventure is full of whimsy and mind-blowing visuals, but its anchored by a generic, if occasionally wondrous, story. Jabari soon has a meet-cute at a neighbors party who's music is way too loud. It's there he meets Meadow (Jessica Williams). In a stylistic 360-degree shot flush with bold purple, it's immediately evident that Jabari has fallen for Meadow at first sight. There's a problem, though: Meadow is actually Jabari's next door neighbor, which presents some pretty big complications.

Complications be damned, though, as Meadow approaches Jabari the next day and takes him out to an apology lunch. It's clear the two have a spark, and their meal together at Meadow's favorite spot is full of flirtation and nervous energy. It immediately brought me back to memories of my own first dates, beautifully capturing all the conflicting feelings when you first connect with someone — do they like me? Are they the one? Why are the hairs standing up on the back of my neck? Even if Jabari and Meadow's lunch isn't technically a date. It's a great moment, and emphasizes what "Entergalactic" does best.

A visual feast

Watching "Entergalactic" is often thrilling, especially for fans of romance. Such creative visuals are hardly ever seen in romantic comedies, which rarely get more adventurous than the use of split-screen in "500 Days of Summer." It's exciting to see a genre known for everything but formal inventiveness get the treatment that "Entergalactic" has received. It really does look astonishing — colors explode off the screen, and its closest style comparison is one of the most visually adventurous films of the last decade, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse." Mind you, "Entergalactic" lacks the rampant energy and relentlessness of "Spider-verse," but at its best, the film looks like a gorgeous comic book come to life. The color palette is rich, favoring warm pinks, purples, and blues to create a world that feels both relaxed and bold. Occasionally character models don't feel quite as fluid as they should and there's the odd stutter, but it doesn't take you out of the world, and it actually serves the idea of a comic in motion quite well.

There are tons of striking moments, and you can feel the artists having fun with some creative visual gags, like using the Fed-Ex logo to establish Jabari's ex-girlfriend. Moments frequently wow — both Jabari and Meadow are creatives at heart, and that's cleverly reflected when Jabari rides through the city on his bike. His imagination takes over, and the city streets become spectacular galaxies, and whenever the plot would stutter, these gorgeous moments took over, distracting me from what is ultimately a generic meet-cute romance. When "Entergalactic" lets the visuals and music (all by Kid Cudi) take the reins, the effect is nothing short of psychedelic — simply put, it's magnetizing.

A lackluster romance

It's something of a shame then, that the actual romance is pretty threadbare. Watching the will-they-won't-they between Meadow and Jabari is enjoyable, largely thanks to strong vocal performances from Mescudi and Williams, who share an impressive chemistry. Strangely, when the two finally become romantically entwined, "Entergalactic" employs a lengthy montage to show their relationship properly kicking off. It's a charming scene, and soundtrack is beautiful, but the moment ultimately wastes an opportunity to watch these characters really connect. I don't think we get quite enough of who Meadow is — we know she's a photographer, and there are some nice flashes of personality, but she's a pretty hollow character. While the montages allow for some great visual flair, the moment doesn't tell us anything more than the fact that the two have started sleeping together.

There's a disconnect between the larger than life animation and the romantic storyline that quickly becomes humdrum, hitting every familiar up and down that you've seen in every other romantic comedy. It's all passable enough, and I genuinely really enjoyed myself watching "Entergalactic," even if it was clear I was very much swept up in the music and animation rather than anything the plot was offering me. There are some pretty good laughs along the way, thanks to Jabari's friends, and there are multiple different styles of animation employed that are a fun distraction — but that's all they really feel like. Attempts to distract from a story that you've seen countless times before.

On the edge of greatness

Disappointingly, the script reaches for bigger, bolder ideas, but never follows through on them. In a great scene, Jabari is at Cosmic Comics, starting his pitch for his comic book. He's approached by another member of staff who immediately makes him uncomfortable, and his speech to Jabari is rife with microaggressions. He also tells him that his ideas will likely clash with management, who prefer things to be "light, bright, and white." Here, "Entergalactic" presents a compelling quandary: how do you keep your artistic integrity and create authentic art in a stifling corporate environment? The implications of race are vital here too, as Jabari is Black in an overwhelmingly white office. This is rife for interrogation and rich insight that Mescudi has certainly experienced in his own life, but it gets resolved later with the blink of an eye. "Entergalactic" offers a tantalizing opportunity to dig deeper, but settles on a cheap, easy resolution to a far more complex problem instead.

"Entergalactic" is billed as an event, and in many ways, that's correct. I can't remember the last time a romance story has received such beautiful visual treatment, and the soundtrack provided by Kid Cudi was clearly designed with the film in mind, or vice versa. It's a thoughtful, often effective and occasionally cathartic watch. There's great performances, wonderful music, and exceptional visuals with vibrant colors you'll be thinking about for days after the film has ended. If only the film was willing to take risks anywhere near as big with the story, and we could have had something truly special. Still, "Entergalactic" is a sweet, funny, and you could do a lot worse for an evening in.

/Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

"Entergalactic" premieres on September 30, 2022 on Netflix, alongside Kid Cudi's album of the same name.