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Animation recommendations: ‘If Anything Happens I Love You’

Whether sudden or expected, the death of a loved one is something we can never prepare for. Grief is not easy. Imagine you stumble across an old item — a beloved sweatshirt, a collar with a bell on it or a trinket in the back of a cabinet. You start to remember all the good memories associated with them — your uncle’s laugh, the hours spent playing with the family cat, your grandma’s tendency to collect Jesus figurines. For a second, you run through every memory associated with this person, from the minute detail of your first meeting with each other until … you remember why you are remembering them in the first place. They’re gone.

This is what watching “If Anything Happens I Love You” is like. It’s like a punch to the gut.

In this short film by Michael Govier and Will McCormack, we see two parents grieving the loss of their daughter in a school shooting. With a run time of only 12 minutes, it does an amazing job of displaying the grieving process after a traumatic event. For a film about such a sensitive subject, there is actually no violence shown in the whole film. The closest instances of violence are the sounds of gunshots and police sirens. Instead, we are shown the tense interactions the parents have with each other after losing their daughter. They are awkward, distant and unwilling to be around one another, ultimately unable to connect due to overwhelming feelings of grief. It’s heart-wrenching to watch, as the audience knows both parents are hurting but have no idea how to support each other or process what happened. 

The film’s art style is initially simplistic but for good reason. The movie’s black-and-white animation might seem like it came straight from a storyboard, but the art style helps portray how the parents are feeling in their time of vulnerability. It is not until the Mom finds a piece of her daughters’ clothing that this film truly begins to shine. Here, the film bursts into faded watercolor to portray the ghosts of the past: their daughter’s life from family road trips to her first kiss. As the parents bond over the happy memories they made with her, they are finally able to support each other in their devastating moment of grief. 

Did I also mention that not a single word is spoken in this film as well? The movie relies entirely on the expressions of the characters to display their grief, sadness, anger, confusion and overall vulnerability.

This short film does not hold back in delivering its gut-punches. There is no “true” happy ending. No deus ex machina that brings their daughter back to life. Just like real life, the parents must go on. They may not fully recover from what happened. (I mean, could anyone?) 

The film’s whole message is about unexpected tragedy and how we react to it. So while it’s good to mourn, it’s never good to do it by yourself, especially when there are others who might be going through the same thing. Never shut people out, whether they are lending out a helping hand or not, because you both may need each other at the end of the day.

Also, if this film has taught me anything, it’s that life is too dang short. Call your parents, your caregivers, siblings or anyone that cares for you. Just tell them “If Anything Happens I Love You.”

Title: “If Anything Happens I Love You”

Directors: Michael Govier,  Will McCormack

Starring: Lindsay Marcus

Streaming: Netflix

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

Contact Owen at ogannon@nd.edu

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‘Jurassic World: Dominion’: A disappointment 6.5 million years in the making

Dinosaurs divide the population into two types: those who love them and those who couldn’t care less. Somehow, “Jurassic World: Dominion” doesn’t inspire either stance. With its unfocused story and bloated plot, the movie plods to its conclusion as if anticipating extinction at the hands of other summer films. Even the resurrection of fan-favorite characters Drs. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Sattler (Laura Dern) and Grant (Sam Neill) failed to salvage it.

For an entry in a series of reboots which excavate previous films for content, the premise begins strong. Dinosaurs have invaded modern ecosystems. The film raises important questions in its first dozen minutes such as, “Can dinosaurs be integrated into the modern world?” and “Is it ethical to kill them all just because they’re unnatural?” Unfortunately, these questions are left unanswered.

Instead, the film spends the next two hours of runtime focusing on a plot involving genetically engineered cicadas produced by InGen wannabe, Biosyn Genetics. The cicadas are targeting the seeds of crops not produced by Biosyn. Everyone’s going to starve unless someone stops them. The world had a big enough problem on its hands with the dinosaurs; the only reason the cicadas are introduced is so Dr. Sattler can rope Dr. Grant into an investigative journalism stunt to have Biosyn shut down for terrorism. As if paleobotanists and paleontologists are known for their expertise in bioengineering. A more compelling way to bring Grant into the story would be to address the existential crisis he’s surely having now that his job’s rendered obsolete.

The film’s story is also divided into a kidnapping plot involving Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), Owen (Chris Pratt) and Maisie (Isabella Sermon). Quite a bit happens here. Claire and Owen visit an underground dinosaur trading bar, get in a plane crash and run from dinosaurs in a jungle and on a frozen lake. Meanwhile, their 14-year-old ward, Maisie, is held captive at Biosyn because she’s a genetic clone, and they want to reverse-engineer her to strengthen their cicadas … or something.

Forgive the lack of coherence, but events in the film are just that: events. The story can barely maintain its focus across all its ideas. When subplots do overlap, they do so in a contrived manner, such as all seven main characters happening to stumble into one another out in the jungle. Oh right, there was a seventh character: a pilot who gives up dinosaur smuggling to aid Owen and Claire in their search. Her role, beyond bailing the others out of trouble, is so minimal that her name escapes me.

In lieu of a plot or characters, dinosaur action becomes the film’s main focus. The diversity in fight scenes is appealing to those who just want their action fix, as characters fend off herds of raptors, run from a T-Rex and witness several battles between two of the film’s largest species. But while there’s plenty of carnage, each fight feels floaty. It’s like the dinosaurs are action figures being slapped together. And despite that being the film’s draw, it still doesn’t feel like enough time is devoted to the dinosaurs beyond being scary setpieces. When the film concludes with a fuzzy message about coexistence, the viewer can’t help but realize they’d forgotten there were ever dinosaurs devastating society.

Overall, “Jurassic World: Dominion” is the quintessential summer blockbuster. It’s chock-full of explosions, chases and the kind of hand-waved science fiction only a middle schooler could find compelling. Once one reawakens to the black screen at the end of the runtime, the adrenaline may linger long enough for a comment on which act of dinosaur violence was most entertaining. Then the movie is left to fossilize in our memories.

Title: Jurassic World: Dominion

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum

Director: Colin Trevorrow

If you liked: “Jumanji: The Next Level”

Shamrocks: 2 out of 5

Kait Milleret

Contact Kait at kmillere@nd.edu