Antarctica seems like it is going to be another indie coming of age film. Janet (Kimie Murray) and Kat (Chloe Levine) are two long time friends who are the only ones that get each other. They use scorn and sarcasm to get through life. Each have comfortable home lives (which they hate) and are drifting apart. Even the clever title screen is followed by a standard cold open.
The premise is familiar and can work with the right leads. Janet and Kat never quite reach that level of likability, however. From jokes about school shootings to the way the casually mock “ugly” people (this is especially hypocritical since Janet makes it a point to mention she does not like when the term “gay” is used to describe something that is not cool), the pair lack any charm. It is hard to have a coming of age story if the leads are impossible to get behind.
An argument can be made the two are intentionally unlikeable. Antarctica is grounded in reality and everyone can attest to how annoying teenagers are in real life. Instead of putting a glossy coat on high school seniors becoming adults, it presents students anyone can run into. The movie is not just showing the pains of growing up, but the ugliness of being a person.
The movie is also much more surreal than most coming of age stories. The high school teaches Ronald Reagan is the greatest leader of the 20th century; meanwhile, Bill Clinton is the country’s biggest traitor. There are also drug sequences that go beyond the normal hallucinogenic scenes found in similar movies. It only makes sense the leads would be a little different.
Antarctica’s supporting cast fare much better. There are some clichés like the elderly teacher who talks in outdated slang and the obnoxious Stevie D, but they are exceptions. Most of the characters are funny. They do a great job of adding to the story instead of just being there as fodder for the leads. It is one of those cases where the leads end up being less interesting than the people around them.
The movie has some incredibly funny moments. There are plenty of straight up zingers in Antarctica, but the movie excels in its more subtle moments. This includes a pee joke that somehow goes beyond low hanging fruit. There is intelligence in the comedy. There is a really good movie inside Antarctica. It is very creative and has plenty of laugh out loud moments. It’s decision to make things more realistic is commendable, but it also makes the leads difficult to watch.
Antarctica premieres on Breaker, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Dish, Spectrum, YouTube and more on December 1, 2020.
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