Newly Nostalgic – Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop (Movie Review)

It’s a movie I’ve been waited a year and a half for, thanks to the pandemic. But I absolutely don’t mind spoiling it right here and now; it was totally worth it. This movie just oozes summer vibes, and that all too familiar boy-meets-girl story I indulge in every now and then. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what it’s all about.

Cherry is a young adult whose terrible at communicating in real life. Instead he prefers to wear his headphones, and write haikus on his phone, sharing them on SNS. Smile is a girl who always wears a mask to conceal her teeth, which currently have braces. Despite concealing her face, she streams on SNS seeking “cuteness” in all forms. The duo meet suddenly at their local mall, somehow ending up spending time together seeking a lost idol record with maybe a tad bit more regarding each other.

I’m not going to lie, Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop is not a deep movie. There’s no grandiose message or hidden meaning in layers of subtext. Most of the tension is fairly easy to deduce the conclusion too, even for someone dense like myself. And that’s what makes it so good.

The story is straight forward, with a few foreseeable twists and turns. Most importantly, it has a beginning, middle, and has a clear goal for where characters are going. In a world where stories get bogged down with character clutter, and padded run times, Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop is crisp, clean, and refreshing with it’s pacing. Which in turn makes the run-time a solid, but not over extended in it’s execution. Although I will hint that it’s worth your while to watch through the credits, all the way to the end for the best result.

The characters themselves, Cherry and Smile are obviously the main pull. Both of them are relatable in the genuine, this person has flaws, but they’re ones that nearly everyone at some point has had. It’s not gimmicky or a shoe-in aspect, but it really allows you regardless of your circumstances, to connect with either one at various points of the story. As someone in their late twenties, I can look back on Cherry and Smile with a bit of nostalgia and a few memories of my own. Bonus points that it doesn’t have any secondhand embarrassment aspects in my nostalgia. They are joined by a colorful, but not overbearing or scene stealing cast of friends, co-workers, and family. All of whom are structured in just the right way to contribute meaningfully to the story, but by no means super memorable manner.

What shines about this story is the attention to color. Just looking at the design for Cherry and Smile, color theory especially complimentary colors is displayed full force everywhere. The world they occupy is vibrant and seemingly endless with it’s main and secondary locations, with backdrops that would make most city-pop revivalists green with envy. The world looks both fantastical, and whimsical with just enough reality to make it all come together to make even the most straight forward teen romance feel nostalgically new.

As for the animation; it’s so fluid. It felt not exactly dream-like, but you could tell there was a lot of time, care, and consideration put into each sequence. flying dog considering their production history, really knew how to craft a well-thought out project for their 10th anniversary. Both Signal.MD and Sublimation had some great guidance on how it needed to look and feel when in action. It was so stunning. I have no idea if the pandemic allowed this story to be polished even further due to it’s delay, or not, but the end result regardless is fantastic.

I also found it really interesting how a lot of scenes were juxtaposed. There was a lot of intentional dual screen used to show action between both characters at once. The most notable being an early scene where Cherry and Smile talk via video chat for the first time. It allows the audience to get a better feel for how both characters act in separate, but similar circumstances in their own circle of friends. This wasn’t a one and done deal either, as it was intentional story-telling tool used a few times throughout the film that really rounded it out well.

Lastly, is how the story made you feel. Mid-summer (actually only a week off from the timeline of events in the story itself!), sitting a movie theater at a mall, on a Saturday evening was perfect timing to enjoy this flick. I can’t emphasize it enough that Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop is the embodiment of a nostalgic summer, with just enough modern sensibilities where it’s built to last into the near future. You can feel it from the opening sequence in the story, characters, animation, and soundtrack how much was put into this film.

So of course, I said it earlier; this film was worth the wait. The timing and mood was just right for me to enjoy this film in all it’s teen romance-ness. I highly recommend seeing this when you can, but if possible wait until mid-summer in the early evening; you won’t be disappointed.

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