Released: 16th September
Seen: 20th November
Sometimes you just look at a poster for a film and you just know that this is going to be a bad time, you just have that undeniable feeling that whatever you’re about to go through for the next hour and a half is going to be excruciating. Upon seeing the poster for Extinct it’s hard to deny that the feeling of “Oh god” was running rampant, and that feeling only got worse upon seeing the trailer. Well, the good news is that Extinct is not as awful as one might’ve expected based on first appearances… but that’s only because it’s so middle of the road that awfulness might be an improvement.
Extinct introduces the audience to a race of creatures known as Flummels, adorable little furry creatures shaped like hoops who live on one of the Galapagos islands. Two of these flummels, Ed (Adam Devine) and Op (Rachel Bloom) are the outcast flummels who are considered to be the weirdos because of reasons that I assume make sense to other flummels. One day Ed and Op fall into a flower and time travel to modern day Shanghai where they learn, thanks to a poodle named Clarence (Ken Jeong) that their race went extinct during a volcano explosion. Now Ed and Op must find a way to get back to their old island, using other magic time travelling flowers, and warn their species about what’s to come… oh, and there’s also a bunch of other extinct animals that are kind of there but don’t matter much beyond building up the cast list for this film.
Extinct is one of those films that had the real potential to tell a great story about extinct creatures, maybe have an environmental message about conserving wildlife or something like that… but instead it’s a brainless romp where every few minutes the sentient donuts that are our main characters jump in a flower and go to a different time period for about 30 seconds before coming back to a stale room. Repeat this until we get to the third act where we have a dramatic villain reveal that no one cares about and you have a movie that’s not harmful in any way because in order to be harmful you have to have tried to be interesting.
The film doesn’t so much play with animated film cliches as abuse them on screen to the point of insanity. From “our main characters are outcasts that no one likes for no reason” to a small series of accidents getting them exiled from their community to the grand reveal of a villain who was pretending to be good the whole time, if you’ve seen an animated film at any point in the last couple of decades than you’ve seen every single trope this film pulls… except those films have interesting characters or jokes that might make the tropes work at least a little bit, this film has nothing other than some bright colours and the hope that the person viewing it is an 8 year old with no sense of taste yet.
What’s sad is that you can tell this cast has the talent and comedic chops to pull this off, as do the writers who have all worked on The Simpson’s for several years. It’s kind of stunning that there can be this much legendary comedic talent available, both in the sound booth and behind the scenes, and no one thought to try and write a joke that wasn’t painful or dull. The best we get might be the few times they break the fourth wall and almost call out how cliche and boring everything is, which is a joke in the same way that a man crawling through the desert thinks that sweat counts as a drink… sure, when you’ve got nothing it’ll work but it’s not a reliable long term option.
It is hard to deny that the central designs of the flummels are adorable, this is a very cute looking movie and maybe if you watched it with the sound off or didn’t pay attention you might like it. It’s relying on the cute factor and the large amount of bright colours to hopefully distract small children who this is clearly aimed towards… but small children aren’t stupid and deserve just a little bit more effort than what’s on display here. Again, this film isn’t actively bad because badness implies effort was made. It’s just… dull.
Extinct is not worth the time it took to scroll through the Netflix home page to find it, let alone worth the hour and a half spent sitting through and wondering when it was going to decide to try and tell a joke or something like that. Maybe, MAYBE if you have a really little kid who responds well to bright colours and you need to find the most basic unobjectionable thing to put on to keep them quiet this might serve a purpose but there are better options, there’ll always be better options than this film.