Director: Bill Watterson
Writers: Steven Sears and Bill Watterson
Starring: Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Adam Busch, James Urbaniak, John Hennigan, Frank Caeti and Scott Narver
The concept behind Dave Made a Maze is so charming and whimsical that you can’t help but fall in love with it during the first few minutes of the film. Dave (Nick Thune) has a weekend to himself and instead of finishing any of the unfinished projects or fixing the front door he makes a giant maze out of cardboard in the living room. Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) comes home to find that Dave is stuck in the maze and despite repeated warnings, goes in after him with a group of friends. The maze is bigger on the inside and they all end up getting lost on their hunt to save Dave.
The idea behind the film is pure genius and full of imagination. There are so many great and interesting moments in the film. From the keyboard packaging that seeps into the room to the room where they turn into puppets. There is a great moment where a creepy cardboard dummy version of Brynn which is constantly asking for high fives. It’s pure magical storytelling at its best. Sadly, the rest of the film fails to live up to the premise.
The acting is a real mixed bag with a most of the lines falling flat and the characters are just not engaging enough to keep you interested once the novelty of the idea has faded. There is a documentary crew that follow the group around as they search for Dave. They do deliver some of the better jokes of the film, but at the same time the joke goes on too long and starts to become tiresome.
Even though the film’s set up is filled with comic potential, so many of the jokes just don’t land. They feel awkward and forced. There’s a repeating joke where each character walks into a room and is mesmerised by something, only for someone else to stop them and say it’s a trap. It’s funny once, but it’s just repeated over and over. There are a few genuine laugh out loud moments that work really well, putting a blanket up to stop the minotaur getting in is funny as is the opening sequence where Annie is talking to Dave from outside the maze.
The maze is an obvious metaphor for Dave who is struggling to find a direction in life. He never finishes anything, which is a recurring point that is made time and time again throughout the short run time. The metaphor is nice, but it’s not given any subtlety. It’s spelt out for you in a pre-opening credits sequence that is set halfway through the film, which you have to sit through twice because it doesn’t skip it when the narrative catches up. The film is only eighty minutes long, but it feels a lot longer, which isn’t helped with the repetition that’s just there to pad out the run time.
Dave Made a Maze has a fantastical premise that works so well on paper. It’s really let down by some poor jokes and average performances. The biggest sting is the wasted potential. The film still has some magical moments, the opening sequence is excellent, there are some very funny jokes, and the imagination is off-the-charts. It’s a fun film, but it could have been so much more.
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