London Student

London Film Festival – Mutafukuz: ‘a 12 year-old video-gamer’s masturbatory fantasy’

Shoujirou Nishimi and Guillaume Renard’s animation, based on the graphic novels of the same name, suffers from an acute case of cinematic ADHD – cramming three films worth of story into one. As a result it’s an absolutely exhausting, sleep-inducing slog.

Angelino, Willie, and Vinz live in LA – sorry, I mean ‘Dark Meat City’ (an irritating name created solely to service an equally irritating pun within the first five minutes) – getting by on a combination of streetwise anonymity and reclusion alone. When Angelino gets hit by a bus whilst ogling at ‘2006 emo girl’, he’s plunged into a They Live-esque nightmare, where he can see that a large percentage of the population are actually tentacle-waving monsters from space. Before this realisation can settle in, a suited group of mystery men begin to pursue the trio, leading to a collection of disparate plot strands involving wrestlers, world domination, and body horror (amongst many other things).

What’s truly impressive is how Nishimi and Renard could fit this much craziness into a movie and still have it feel so dull. I’m gonna assume it has something to do with how incomprehensible the plot is – it’s not that it’s particularly complicated, or that it’s playing Lynch, but it throws in red herrings at almost every turn (e.g. the inconsequential presence of wrestlers, or the triviality of some lengthy scenes). Even aside from that, the colour scheme is unappealingly muted – as if someone had taken the original print of Mutafukuz and rubbed dirt into it until every frame had been pigmented with the same shade of mud. When your animation fails to visually excite, then you’re really in trouble. As a result, this writer was on the verge of sleep for a large portion of the feature, and heard commentary to the same effect outside the screen afterwards.

Mutafukuz is also an immensely confused piece of work. One look at the material screams ‘HELLO THIS IS SOCIALLY RELEVANT!’, but I have to ask: how? Sure, it’s not ‘socially irrelevant’, but it’s not saying anything of much worth. Just because a story features streetwise characters who lived in impoverished areas, doesn’t mean to say it’s worth your time. On the same note, I’m not quite sure why in Mutafukuz‘s world, some people are humans, some are animals, and others are abstract shapes (Angelino is basically a bowling ball on a body). There could be a metaphor lurking somewhere – but I’m definitely missing it if there is.

Mutafukuz‘s one saving grace is its sense of humour. Titles frequently appear on the screen, questioning the various plot points at work with sarcastic glee. Although this is a little one-tone, it did provide amusement in areas where there wasn’t anything else to hold our attention – which was a plus. A particular car chase, featuring an ice-cream van (whose jingle is incorporated into the soundtrack) was also a highlight, both raw and comically ridiculous.

With it’s hip-hop stylings, GTA feel, and wacky storyline, Mutafukuz tries to be the cool kid on the block. Instead, it comes off as a 12 year-old video-gamer’s masturbatory fantasy played out during a paused strip-club cutscene. It’s silly, excessive, and too hyperactive for its own good – but, worst of all, it’s boring to the point of sending the audience to sleep. ‘What the fuck is going on?’, the meta-titles ask us at one point. We couldn’t care less.



Featured image: The Upcoming.

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James Witherspoon

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