From director Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki) and writer April Prosser comes another one of these stories that looks at a key moment in someone’s life and considers two possible paths that that person might have traveled depending on the outcome. In the case of Look Both Ways, college student Natalie (Lili Reinhart, Riverdale) has her life planned out to the letter—four years of intensive art school in Austin, Texas, followed by a move to Los Angeles with her best girlfriend Cara (Aisha Dee) and getting a job at a top animation studio where she will be appreciated and celebrated for her creative mind and abilities. But when she sleeps with her best guy friend Gabe (Danny Ramirez) one time, she begins to think she’s pregnant. It’s the pregnancy test that is the key moment in question, and in one version of her life, it comes out positive and she foregoes her lifelong plans to have the baby; in the other version, she isn’t pregnant and goes ahead with her plans with mixed results.
Naturally, because Natalie is pretty, white, from well-off parents, and this is a gutless movie, it’s never really in doubt that both versions of her life are going to turn out pretty much in her favor. She might end up with different guys depending on the path, but they’re both fairly dreamy. I spent most of Look Both Ways attempting to figure out what the actual point of the movie was. In one version, she has to deal with disappointed parents (Andrea Savage and Luke Wilson) and baby poop, but her co-parenting with Gabe actually seems to be the best thing for them and their offspring. Her dreams of becoming an animator are simply put on hold but not forever dashed against the rocks.
In the version of her life that more or less sticks to the plan, she deals with a different type of shit, the kind dealt out by Hollywood and a boss who needs coffee more than your ideas or portfolio. To balance her disappointment, she throws herself into a relationship with a co-worker named Jake (David Corenswet), and the two even contemplate moving in together. That is, until he gets a dream job producing a documentary that unfortunately takes him out of the country for months at a time…so naturally, Natalie has to break up with him. If she were as confident and well considered about certain things in her life as she was about her career plan, her life might be a whole lot less tumultuous. But that would not be nearly as fun a story to tell.
The final act of Look Both Ways simply confirms that regardless of the journey Natalie takes, she eventually lands in the same place with her animation career and her love life (although not necessarily in the way you think), and that might be the dullest thing about her in a film that reminds us constantly how boring and vanilla her life is in every version of it (in case you hadn’t figured it out, this is the worst multiverse movie of the year, by far). Throwing in Nia Long as Natalie’s boss in the non-baby storyline and tossing in a few references to Pixar and Studio Ghibli never sold me on her knowledge of animation’s history and prospects. I spent most of this film bored and uninspired. And if the purpose of a work like this is to get the audience to consider the other paths their lives might have taken based on a single decision, whatever choice I made that set me down the path toward watching this movie can kiss my ass.
The film is now streaming on Netflix.
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