Review: Planet Heaven

Planet Heaven
Directed by Tucker Bennett

What if there was an app that could tap into your brainwaves and wash all your worries away? Help you manifest your dreams at the touch of a button (for a small fee)? And what happens when that app is made by the densest men on the planet? Tucker Bennett’s Planet Heaven has the answers and more.

In this package are a few different styles crashing together. There’s the overarching expository mockumentary which gives insight into the app’s founders Tyler (Tucker Bennett) and Curtis (Zach Shipko), along with their inspiring journey to creating an accursed app. Past that there’s a love story, various conspiratorial YouTube videos and even a surreal spiritual odyssey. This film is composed of a lot of moving parts in a modest runtime, but all of that adds to the jarring feeling that underpins the comedy. The erraticness is heightened by the endless barrage of hyperstylised low budget animations, filters and transitions which constantly give you something exciting to look at on screen. Not unlike the mobile app ads you’re barraged with on any given day.

Among eclectic cast, the standout is ‘Groovin’s’ turn as Charly Prophet, a conspiracy theorist who aces incredible one liners like “I don’t fuck with endorphins.” His uncanny wise rides the line of ridiculous internet beliefs (aeroplane chemtrails, 5G), that sometimes, if not accidentally, stumble into truisms (western companies commercialize and oversimplify spirituality originating in the global south for their own manipulative profiteering).

Funny and wild, Planet Heaven skewers the mythos of the tech genius that Silicon Valley is built on. The entrepreneurs presented here are not mad scientists, or super geniuses, or visionary men of the people. Instead the pair of them are just losers with a rich friend and no real regard for the safety of others. Bennett and Shipko play this perfectly with dead-pan deliveries and aimless rambles. In the midst of a bunch of strange, over-the-top performances, they feel like a very intentional void of charisma. These are men who believe their own hype but can never live up to it, and the divine comedy comes from a patheticness they’re unable to overcome.

There’s also a broader takedown of the ‘wellness culture’ in the digital age. Venture capitalists hocking quick fixes to deep emotional issues, all within the architecture of apps designed to develop their own neurotic, addictive tendencies. The parody here cleverly interweaves the oddball comedy and the display of the exploitative grievances with broader tech culture.

Bringing together a chaotic range of styles and performances, Planet Heaven lands a hilarious critique of the culture which claims to make us better as it slowly destroys us. Preaching spiritual salvation, bringing forth some mutant apocalypse.

The film is available on YouTube.


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