Dave Made a Maze (Review)

Dave Made a Maze

Dave Made A Maze
2017
Story by Steven Sears
Screenplay by Steven Sears and Bill Watterson
Directed by Bill Watterson

Dave Made A Maze
Sometimes life is a journey of frustration. Sometimes every direction you turn just ends up in the same dead ends, you feel like you are going no where and stuck in the same rut you’ve always been. Dave Made a Maze takes this and runs with it, throwing in some millennial angst to churn the butter. It isn’t just about a guy who made a maze out of cardboard. It’s about the passion of wanting to make your mark in the world and getting totally lost and overwhelmed while doing so. Dave Made a Maze is not for everyone, you’ll do better if you haven’t hit your 40s or if you spent years of your life wandering in an aimless haze, thinking you were destined for great things but never actually making or achieving those great things.

There is a lot of love with the design of Dave Made a Maze, it takes a lot of care to make things look so good at looking so cheap. The effects are crafty, like the whole thing is an Etsy project that began multiplying and mutating out of control. The walls are made of a million cardboard boxes sacrificed for the good of art. There are traps in the maze, the traps are lethal, people die, but their blood is an explosion of red strings and glitter. Like all good labyrinths, the layout is constantly shifting, this maze is growing, and there is a minotaur running around. At one point the characters become paper bag puppets, and there is a mysterious seductive vortex that looks suspiciously like a vagina.
Dave Made A Maze

Dave (Nick Thune) is a schlub, a burnout sleepwalking through his life. He has no sense of accomplishment and aimlessly drifts. Dave’s friends describe him as never following through, and decorations on the wall show half-completed projects like concept albums. His girlfriend Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) has a successful enough career that she goes off to work conferences, thus being out of the house for the weekend where Dave goes all maze crazy. She seems to be sort of resentful of his childish antics but hanging in there out of feelings of attraction that are slowly fading, and may one day break enough that she leaves. At first she doesn’t want to deal with him being stuck in the maze, thinking it is some sort of joke, but humors him by inviting over his friends. His friends may not be large and in charge successes, but they at least finish what they accomplish. One of them does documentaries that no one seems to watch, but he and his crew become a constant narrative force throughout the film and force some much needed self-reflection for Dave and Annie.

Despite it all, Dave has a lot going for him. He has a girlfriend who genuinely cares about him even as he becomes more of a drag on her life. He can actually afford to schlub around unemployed despite living in San Francisco, which implies some sort of money stash (or Annie is raking in the big bucks!) This sense of malaise seems odd if you aren’t caught in the midst of it yourself. Why would someone in such a privileged position have such troubles? But we all have troubles, just because a lot of things were handed to you, it doesn’t mean you automatically know what to do. In Dave’s case it may have hindered him, put a burden of greater accomplishments upon himself that he could never live up to. Combine that with a decade of a terrible economy that pays like garbage, treats workers like desposable cogs, and is teetering on the brink of collapsing yet again, and things just seem pointless. Like running a maze you have no sense of escaping from. Wait a minute…

Despite the metaphors, there are some things going on with the side characters. A huge chunk of them are introduced entirely because they are going to be quickly offed in the maze. Once the core group is set up, they then spend the rest of the running time wandering around. Harry’s camera crew don’t even get names and barely have lines despite being major characters who are always present. Harry’s narration seems like it would get annoying real fast, but soon becomes a key point in dissecting the film, though it borders the dangers of telling and not showing.

While a bunch of it works, it can’t really help that Dave just doesn’t seem interesting enough to care about. His friend Gordon (Adam Busch) seems like he would be better to cheer for, or even if it was Annie Made a Maze, throwing in a bunch of extra drama about race, gender, and being the child/grandchild of immigrants but never living up to their sacrifice. Even as someone who emphasizes a lot with Dave because he’s very similar to me, at this point I’m all for stories that shake things up. Dave Made a Maze gets close, but never quit gets to the exit. But it is different, and that is good. Just watch out for the minotaur!
Dave Made A Maze

Rated 6/10


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Dave Made A Maze

Dave Made A Maze

Dave Made A Maze

Dave Made A Maze

Dave Made A Maze

Dave Made A Maze

Dave Made A Maze

Dave Made A Maze

Dave Made A Maze

Dave Made A Maze

Dave Made A Maze

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!