Review: Zoom

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

Zoom 2016 movie review Alison Pill Gael Garcia Bernal Pedro Morelli

PLOT: Three stories – an employee at a sex doll factory gets breast implants; a famous director decides to make an arthouse movie; a beautiful model starts writing a book – are inextricably linked together in startling ways.

REVIEW: ZOOM is a thoroughly unexpected surprise, a movie that is – at the moment – completely under the radar. For what reason, I don't know. It's clever, weird, extremely funny, visually exciting and consistently surprising. Fans of Charlie Kaufman will likely eat it up, and I have no doubt it'll find itself a cult following in the very near future.

Part zany comedy, part meta deconstruction of three different mediums (movies, books and comic books), part rumination on the nature of storytelling, part Twilight Zone episode, the film – written by Matt Hansen and directed by Pedro Morelli – tells three stories simultaneously that are all linked to one another. If that doesn't exactly sound groundbreaking material, in a way, it isn't. But how they're linked provides some of the fun of ZOOM, and when they all come tumbling together at the very end it's in a satisfying, if necessarily goofy, manner. Regardless, the film is a bouncy, energetic romp that makes most of Hollywood's recent comedic efforts look positively puerile.

Zoom 2016 movie review Alison Pill Gael Garcia Bernal Pedro Morelli

One story involves Emma (Alison Pill), a talented comic artist who is wasting away her days working at a sex doll factory. Insecure about her average looks (especially in the presence of so many faux-sexy dolls), Emma decides to get breast implants. When the implants she receives turn out to be too big, Emma has a change of heart – but will need to come up with the money to reverse the surgery. A second story – which is animated – looks at Edward (Gael Garcia Bernal), a successful director of big-budget Hollywood popcorn flicks. Edward's latest movie is an arthouse affair; a complete 180 from his usual destruction-filled blockbusters. The studio is not thrilled with Edward's newfound pseudo-intellectual leanings, but the suave director is sure he can win over the new studio head (Jennifer Irwin) with his, ahem, sizable package. But when Edward is suddenly confronted with the alarming fact that it's not so sizable anymore, his life – and movie – begins to suffer. The third story introduces us to Michelle (Mariana Ximenes), a Brazilian model working on a novel. No one seems to believe she can pull it off least of all her boyfriend (Jason Priestley), so she runs away to Brazil to work on it in solitude. And her life changes soon after.

Just how these stories intertwine I shall not reveal, although I'm sure you can find that out via the trailer or by reading the studio's synopsis. I would urge you to discover for yourself. Part of the reason ZOOM worked so well for me was because I knew absolutely nothing about it, and I was reminded of the power of walking into a movie with a clean slate, without preconceived notions of what's going to happen. But aside from that, ZOOM is simply a movie that's alive and kicking, filled with terrific little details and bizarre notions. It was made by people who were clearly having fun with it, excited by their own off-the-wall ideas. It's all too rare you get the sense that a film is a true passion project, made with joy and a sense of adventure.

Zoom 2016 movie review Alison Pill Gael Garcia Bernal Pedro Morelli

The cast is excellent, every part seems just right for the actor chosen to be in it. While Pill, Bernal and Ximenes are the three clear leads, all of them compelling and enjoyable, Morelli has peppered in a handful of terrific supporting turns as well. In particular: Tyler Labine as Emma's f*ck buddy, who eventually plots an unusual crime with her in order to raise money for her breast reduction, and Don McKellar as Edward's producer, a shill for the studio. They're absolutely great (and in McKellar's case the feat is doubly impressive considering he's animated). Michael Eklund also has a juicy little role as one of Emma's more peculiar customers.

ZOOM isn't perfect, but its shortcomings aren't really worth fretting about. It's just long enough (96 minutes), moves swiftly, has interesting things to say on a variety of subjects (our obsession with appearances being front and center) and packs plenty of laugh-out-loud moments into its busy, complex narrative. If you're looking for a movie that isn't just the same old thing, ZOOM is for you.




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About the Author

Eric Walkuski is a longtime writer, critic, and reporter for He's been a contributor for over 15 years, having written dozens of reviews and hundreds of news articles for the site. In addition, he's conducted almost 100 interviews as JoBlo's New York correspondent.