Shrill, arduous, and over- just about everything—wrought, extended, blown, orchestrated—Aimy in a Cage is like an endless episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse for the lobotomized set without the saving grace of our childlike host’s knowing chuckle. Some graphic novels fare better on the printed page, and comic book artist Hooroo Jackson’s Aimy Micry (on which this screechingly madcap filmed version is based) is one clear and excellent example. Aimy (Allisyn Ashley Arm) is a free-spirited teenager who loves nothing more than to dance, paint, and watch old black and white cartoons. Her Shirley MacLaine-esque grandmother (Terry Moore, Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for 1952’s Come Back, Little Sheba no less), with whom Aimy lives, would prefer her to be compliant and docile. There’s also a medical epidemic called the Apollo Plague raging out there in the real world, to which Aimy, according to her arch and overbearing family, might well have been exposed. When Aimy breaks Grandma Micry’s beloved Magilicuddy Bob doll, it’s the final straw, and Aimy is forced to succumb to the controversial Wollweurth procedure, a combination of “ECT electroconvulsive therapy and SSRI psychothropic brain fluid correction,” leaving her a soulless zombie, her cranium encased in a deep sea diver’s helmet. Crispin Glover, that mainstay of weirdo productions, receives top billing—I hope it was worth it—and Paz de la Huerta (Enter the Void, Nurse 3D) also puts in an appearance as Caroline, the tutor. Otherwise it’s relative unknowns performing brashly—and loudly—in a claustrophobic, overstuffed set. A note to Hooroo: Shouting actors, garish set decoration, and wanabee Terry Gilliam direction do not an Alice in Wonderland fantasy make.
(c) 2015 David N. Butterworth