Film Review – Rim of the World (2019)
Not every film has to ring with greatness in order to be enjoyed. Explosions, high-speed chases, and edge-of-your-seat suspense suffice for many action movies, though they may lack deep significance. Rim of the World is one such film. An action-comedy film full of hilarious one-liners, suspense, and decently well-developed characters, Rim of the World is an engaging film great for a casual evening.
The following review will be spoiler-free.
Directed By: McG
Written By: Zack Stentz
Starring: Jack Gore, Miya Cech, Benjamin Flores Jr., and Alessio Scalzotto
Nerdy eighth-grader Alex (Gore) finally gets a taste of the outdoors at the insistence of his mother. She drops him off at Rim of the World, a summer camp full of colorful personalities. Heights terrify Alex (well, pretty much everything does), which causes him endless embarrassment when he can’t zip-line. Alex meets several other campers. Quiet ZhenZhen (Cech) and boisterous Dariush (Flores) both make an impression. Later, when Dariush and Alex butt heads, mysterious Gabriel (Scalzotto) intervenes.
What starts out as a camp comedy takes a turn when aliens invade. The four kids witness the beginning of the invasion. They argue over the best course of action, finally fleeing the attack through the burning forest. When a NASA space pod falls in front of them and a dying astronaut gives them the McGuffin with which they can defeat the aliens, the kids are thrust into a dangerous adventure. They must travel halfway across Southern California to deliver the McGuffin to the astronomical observatory, whereupon they can vanquish the aliens.
Blessedly, this movie does not take itself seriously. The writer, director, and actors all know full well that they have a ridiculous premise, and they run with that in mind. This enables the movie to take on an endearing, comedic air that made it incredibly enjoyable. The protagonists frequently made references to well-established alien movies.
Fleeing from alien ships, one of the kids shouts “This is Independence Day!” to which another kid immediately responds, “But it’s June!”
Similarly comedic one-liners and banter pepper the whole film. The action-comedy approach, combined with the decision not to take itself seriously, makes this movie shine as a fun, light-hearted experience.
Rim of the World has received some hate online for harmful racial profiling. Personally, I never got that sense, although I am a young adult, white male, so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. From my perspective, the racially-oriented jokes in this film were politically incorrect yet harmless, as is true of much of the humor in the beloved TV series The Office.
That said, I do want to offer a word of warning: there is no shortage of crude humor and innuendo in this movie. This has again received some negative press online, and I agree that such humor prevents it from being a family-friendly movie. However, I again think that the film doesn’t deserve a lot of the hate, since the humor is realistic. Eighth-grade kids talk about sex and make crude jokes. It’s just a fact of life, regardless of whether it’s appropriate or not. Whether or not the behavior should be glorified, this behavior had become normalized long before Rim of the World. The humor in the film is fitting with the age of the kids, although it does make the movie inappropriate for grade-school kids.
Surprisingly Good Characters
One element of the story that I was quite impressed with was how well-developed the characters were. Given the premise of the film, I expected somewhat two-dimensional and predictable characters. The characters certainly do play into the tropes of the shy/awkward nerd, the funny tough-guy, and the mysterious lone figure. However, all four kids are explored in more depth than their mere tropes, especially Alex and Dariush. Without giving away any specifics, suffice it to say that these four kids have believable backstories that are communicated succinctly.
I feel that it’s very difficult to pull off an action-comedy film without slipping into the realm of convenience. Rim of the World certainly doesn’t escape that pitfall. The plot truly begins when an astronaut falls from space and hands the kids a key that holds the ability to defeat the aliens. If the astronaut had fallen anywhere else in the world, the rest of the movie never would have happened.
Aside from this obvious convenience, I found several scenes unrealistic. (Yes, I know it’s ironic to talk about a lack of realism and ignore the fact that the movie revolves around an alien invasion. Bear with me.) The kids each have specific talents and weaknesses. Towards the end of the movie, each protagonist must confront his/her own weakness and overcome it. While this is a good if often used trope, I found it strange that the kids didn’t play into their natural strengths. I think that it would make far more sense, given what was at stake, for the nerd to leave the running and climbing to the athlete.
What’s the Point?
At first, as I was watching the film with a critic’s mind I kept asking the question, “What’s the point?” For most of the movie, I drew a blank. “The point is a fun movie,” I told myself, “But there’s no greater depth.” However, I changed my opinion towards the end of the movie. When Alex delivers an electrifying inspirational speech amid the climax, the theme of the movie finally clicked. The point is that anyone can be a hero, even a kid. Similar to Lord of the Rings or any underdog story, Rim of the World professes that big things come in small packages. It is a story of unlikely heroes overcoming enormous adversity. This theme may have been explored countless times, yet it is always a good one to revisit.
I deeply enjoyed Rim of the World. The film generally had a great sense of humor that immediately welcomed the viewer. The movie’s ability to laugh at itself allows a viewer to suspend disbelief and simply be swept along in the narrative. The characters, if not entirely unique, were still well-developed and gripping. The theme may be a common one, yet it was endearing and powerful nonetheless. It was more than a bit convenient at times, and despite its theme and setting is not very family-friendly. That said, however, I found that the film was thoroughly entertaining and definitely worth a watch.
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