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REVIEW — “Dave Made A Maze”

Nick Thune has the weirdest filmography…

Dave Made A Maze is written by Steven Sears and Bill Watterson, directed by Bill Watterson, and stars Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Kirsten Vangsness, Stephanie Allynne, James Urbaniak and John Hennigan. It tells the story of Dave, an artist who has yet to create anything significant in his life. Frustrated, he builds a small cardboard fort in his living room that somehow, supernaturally, houses a gigantic maze on the inside filled with booby traps, pitfalls, and fantastical creatures. His girlfriend, Annie, leads a large team of explorers into the maze to rescue him but must do battle with Dave’s cardboard world and evade a dangerous Minotaur. I was sold on Dave Made A Maze once I learned the title, and then I saw the trailer and knew I had to see it. It looked weird, funny, dark, and daringly original. Now, having seen it, it’s basically everything I expected. Dave Made A Maze is expectedly charming, quirky, and passionate. While it doesn’t always stick the landing, it’s made up for by the sheer originality of it all.

Bill Watterson is directing here and he does a pretty solid job. This is clearly a directorial debut, everything is handled with a lot of care and love, even if it’s not handled the best. Watterson has a tough time establishing the story but once we enter the maze, it’s pretty much smooth sailing. This is clearly a passion project for him and he really throws everything at the wall to see what sticks. Some sequences in Dave Made A Maze are simply delightful. You can tell it’s just so happy to exist. There undoubtedly are rocky moments, but I’d rather see something weird and flawed, than bland and unforgettable. I’ll definitely be watching what ever Bill Watterson makes next.

Steven Sears and Bill Watterson penned the script and they almost nail it. There is a lot to love here. Dave Made A Maze is one of the most original things I’ve ever seen. How they came up with some of the stuff in this I will never know. They’re also able to infuse heart and emotion into this without having it feel shoehorned in or out of place. But as I hinted at, they clearly have trouble starting out. The beginning is very rocky, they struggle to establish a tone and there is some very clunky and odd dialogue. Also at times, I get the impression they think they’re being a lot deeper than they actually are. But aside from those few narrative problems, Sears and Watterson have written something truly unique. Hollywood, hire these two boys, please.

Nick Thune stars here and he does a great job. This is by far his best work as an actor and he gives a really fantastic performance. He is heartfelt, sincere and really establishes himself as an actor. Even though I am a fan of his stand-up, I don’t feel it’s necessary to be a fan of his to enjoy his work. He kills the role and this is a huge step up from Bad Johnson. Other than that, no one else really impressed me. Not to say they did bad, they’re just not given as much as Thune. The rest of the cast is really along for the ride. They all work very well together, the camera crew was especially funny. Each character get’s a funny moment or two, the whole “Wife” bit was very funny and the paper bag sequence is pure bliss. They all do a bang up job, but Thune really shines here.

On a technical level, Dave Made A Maze screams indie. Nothing is too impressive but nothing is below quality. It’s what’d you’d expect from a film this size and some of it is actually quite impressive. There is some really cool camera work and some beautiful cinematography showcased. But, if you watch this for one reason, it would be for the production design. The sets in this are incredible. The maze itself is fantastic. It is some of the best production design I’ve seen in years. It was all practical and it was glorious. The maze feels alive and if I were to use one word to describe it, it would be… aMAZEing! Get It? I’m sorry.

So, in short, Dave Made A Maze is a funny, wholly original movie that is well worth your time. It may not be perfect, but it’s a sight to see. 3/5

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