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Entergalactic review: a simple but charming animated romance

Entergalactic isn’t like most other animated movies that you’ll see this year — or any year, for that matter. The film, which was created by Scott Mescudi a.k.a. Kid Cudi and executive producer Kenya Barris, was originally intended to be a TV series. Now, it’s set to serve as a 92-minute companion to Cudi’s new album of the same name. That means Entergalactic not only attempts to tell its own story, one that could have easily passed as the plot of a Netflix original rom-com, but it does so while also featuring several sequences that are set to specific Cudi tracks.

Beyond the film’s musical elements, Entergalactic is also far more adult than viewers might expect it to be. The film features several explicit sex scenes and is as preoccupied with the sexual politics of modern-day relationships as it is in, say, street art or hip-hop. While Entergalactic doesn’t totally succeed in blending all of its disparate elements together, the film’s vibrantly colorful aesthetic and infectiously romantic mood make it a surprisingly sweet, imaginative tour through a fairytale version of New York City.

Jabari stands in his doorway in front of Meadow in Netflix's Entergalactic.
Courtesy of Netflix

If that description makes Entergalactic’s plot sound fairly straightforward, that’s because it is. Directed by Fletcher Moules, the new Netflix film follows Jabari (Scott Mescudi), an artist who is given the chance to live a new life of luxury when he is hired by a publisher to create a comic book series centered around a recurring character from his street murals. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Jabari moves into a swanky new Manhattan apartment that places him in close proximity to Meadow (Jessica Williams), a successful photographer who Jabari quickly finds himself falling in love with.

Fortunately for him, Jabari’s feelings are reciprocated by Meadow, and it’s their blossoming New York City romance that ultimately takes center stage in Entergalactic. Moules, for his part, doesn’t pass up the chance to lean all the way into Entergalactic’s romantic vibes, creating La La Land-esque sequences in which Meadow and Jabari get so swept up in their feelings for each other that they occasionally find themselves floating through the cosmos together. These sequences are among Entergalactic’s best, but the film wisely doesn’t save its colorful art style solely for its moments of romantic escapism.

The film’s version of New York is covered in vibrant shades of orange and pink, delivering an iteration of the City That Never Sleeps that looks like what might have happened had the cozy fall wonderland of When Harry Met Sally… been candy-coated. While there are moments when Entergalactic’s stuttery character movements are distracting as well, they never take away from the warmth or vibrancy of the film’s animated images.

Jabari and Meadow pose for a selfie together in Netflix's Entergalactic.
Courtesy of Netflix

Its flourishes of visual invention and overall stylistic playfulness help Entergalactic make up for the clichéd nature of many of its story beats. As Jabari and Meadow, Mescudi and Williams both bring their own well-established charm to their roles, but their characters’ actual romance essentially follows the same path that all rom-com relationships seem to. One subplot involving Jabari’s on-again, off-again relationship with an ex named Carmen (Laura Harrier), for instance, plays out exactly how you’d expect, and the problems that threaten to tear down Jabari and Meadow’s blossoming romance all feel deeply, deeply contrived.

Although several of the film’s musical sequences work well, there are also moments when Entergalactic’s needle drops drag the film’s momentum to a screeching halt. Additionally, several of the songs themselves turn out to be distractingly on-the-nose at points, which only makes their inclusion feel even more superfluous to the film itself. For fans of Cudi’s music, these problems likely won’t affect their viewing experience in any meaningful way, but they do negatively impact Entergalactic’s effectiveness as a standalone film.

Jabari leans forward while wearing a red hoodie in Netflix's Entergalactic.
Courtesy of Netflix

The movie’s colorful supporting characters help add some more flavor to Entergalactic’s central love story. Timothée Chalamet, in particular, turns out to be perfectly cast as Jimmy, a perpetually stoned friend of Jabari’s, while Vanessa Hudgens brings a screwball energy to her vocal performance as Meadow’s best friend, Karina, who essentially narrates the entirety of one of Entergalactic’s funniest sequences. Macaulay Culkin also pops up very briefly in Entergalactic as a one-scene character known only as Downtown Pat, whose tales of romantic misadventures motivate Jabari to open himself up to potential disappointment in one crucial moment.

ENTERGALACTIC | Official Trailer | Netflix

Much like everything else in Entergalactic, though, the film’s side characters still feel extremely reminiscent of the kind of best friend figures that have been showing up in the rom-com genre for decades. The film, therefore, never emerges as the kind of revolutionary new rom-com that it had the potential to be. However, even if it never quite hits the cosmic heights that its title suggests, there are moments when Entergalactic‘s animated love story does manage to get its feet off the ground and soar — if only for a little while.

Entergalactic premieres Friday, September 30 on Netflix.

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