Entergalactic is the visual companion to Kid Cudi’s latest album of the same title, and for lack of a better space pun, it is truly stellar. Considering its star-studded cast of Timothée Chalamet, Ty Dolla $ign, Jaden Smith, Macaulay Culkin, Keith David and Vanessa Hudgens (among many others), the film could have easily relied on Cudi’s fanbase or starpower alone to make money, but Entergalactic is a visual and sonic masterpiece.
The animation’s art style is reminiscent of Spider Man: Into the Spiderverse – which some consider one of the best animated films of all time – and bursts onto the screen in a flurry of movement, color and life. Stylistic references to anime, comic books and graffiti add character and offer a glimpse into the mind of main character Jabari (Kid Cudi) and his career as a graffiti-artist-turned-cartoonist. Clean cinematography compliments the animation smoothly, making for a film that’s easy on the eyes.
Although I tend to watch romantic comedies with a critical eye, I found the plot of Entergalactic endearing and sweet. It follows Jabari moving into a newer, expensive neighborhood, falling for his neighbor, and reconnecting with his ex. Jabari’s process of realizing he and his ex Carmen (Laura Harrier) are two different people now is all too real, and his romance with Meadow (Jessica Williams) is adorable and full of heart. The lyrics of the album mesh well with the low stakes, real-life feel of the movie, serving almost as an internal dialogue for Jabari as he pursues Meadow and tries to shake the lingering connection to Carmen.
While romantic comedies often rely on stereotypes or easily-written background characters to advance the plot, all the female characters are fully fleshed out; it was a nice change of pace that Carmen wasn’t necessarily characterized as the classic crazy-ex-girlfriend trope. Meadow confides in her friend Karina (Hudgens), who also has a separate life and child, as well as fellow photographer and artist Nadia (070 Shake). Karina represents a woman who finds happiness in her relationship and family, while Nadia represents a woman who finds happiness in her career success and friendships; Meadow seeks advice from both in hopes of achieving a balance of both for herself.
Toward the end of the film, Jabari even seeks out the advice of his sister (who offers a wise perspective on women), her brother and the world. Furthermore, the women are outspoken and shameless about their sexuality and desires which is a refreshing and realistic balance between the either strictly romantic or hypersexualized portrayal of women often found in film.
All of the characters feel real, with unique flaws, styles and vibes. Jabari has to tell one of his friends to stop calling women “bitches,” and both Jabari and Meadow have their own problems they have to reconcile in order to make their relationship work. Combined with the dreamy, illustrative animation, the characters serve to ground the situation, making this version of New York feel realistic and relatable.
Furthermore, the film incorporates each song from the album without feeling cheap, and makes plenty of references to other aspects of Cudi’s work, like Mr. Rager – a character from one of his albums representing Cudi’s struggles with fame and drug use – and the outer space motif common in his albums. It’s a newer, happier vibe than his previous pensive, melancholy, arguably repetitive, work of the Man on the Moon series. It’s also an experiment in Cudi’s expansion to other forms of entertainment, and a successful one at that.
As Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi begins transitioning out of a rap career, Entergalactic and its star-crossed lovers are a good forecast for what is to come from him next.
Thumbnail courtesy of Netflix