Not the End of the World is a short animated film directed by Jack Bennett that details the fast changing world of school crushes. Both nostalgic and comedic, this film explores the love life of a young boy named Joe Connoly. His journey through romances is full of ups and downs and many confusions throughout his day.
The film uses comedy to mimic the dramatic nature of young romances. For example, it begins with Joe waking up and a voice over stating that he does not have a girlfriend. He keeps shutting off his alarm and the fact that he doesn’t have a girlfriend is repeated to express what a big deal his lack of a love life is. Truthfully, being single is something that is always seen as a problem, but especially at a young age it can seem like an issue that needs a quick fix.
As he goes to school, he receives a note from a girl that says she thinks he is cute. When he opens it up, a heavenly light comes out of it to further dramatize the situation. At this age, there can be such a barrier between the genders in terms of understanding what the other means and what their true feelings are. Everything, any note or small show of affection, is analyzed as if it were some kind of puzzle. Instead of being flattered by the statement, there is a close up shot of Joe’s face, which shows him panicked. An alarm goes off and the other guys start running. Of course, that is just the image of the scene that we get from Joe’s mind based off of his discomfort and confusion with the whole situation. He doesn’t really know what to do because it’s such a new stage for him to get attention from a girl.
In reality, everyone else is fine and one of the other guys even asks “Do you know what this means Joe?” in a very dramatic way. In this early period of life, we think every crush and every measure of flattery is life changing and the film does a great job in showing that hyperbolic emotion. It’s clear that Joe doesn’t understand what this note means at all, but he tries to pretend to in order to fit in. It appears that all the other guys know and he doesn’t want to be the only one who doesn’t get it.
One of the funniest scenes was when the film went through the list of all the different girls named Molly in the classroom. Joe thought of each girl and pictured a future with each of them. It was funny because of the reasons that the relationships would end in his mind. For example, with Molly Wood, it’s revealed that she borrowed his pen and never gave it back. The voice over mentions that “Joe really didn’t feel prepared to deal with that sort of baggage.” I thought the humor in that moment was perfect because it played on the childish reasons to reject someone that everyone has felt in the past while also hinting at a more adult issue (too much baggage).
Another thing that interested me about this film was the speed at which the relationship emerges. It was meant to be funny, but it also felt truthful to the fast pace of relationships when people are younger. There are so many emotions and people’s minds change quickly as a result. Joe gets the note and then he writes his own and suddenly he believes they’re dating in his mind. There’s a scene with balloons and banners to celebrate it even though the girl has not actually agreed to any type of commitment yet. The only words that have actually been exchanged are “I think U R cute” and “U R Pretty.” Notice that these words were never actually spoken face to face. The passing of notes prevents direct contact between the two individuals and allows drama and anticipation to grow.
When Joe does actually meet his admirer, Hot Molly, they’re on two completely different sides on what looks like a playing field. It makes the courtship feel even more like a game and they still do not speak to each other. He only knows they’re going to kiss because Molly told her friend this information. He’s completely unprepared when she runs toward him and kisses him. Just seconds later she has her friend tell him that he is dumped. He goes through a whole period of heartbreak and then at the end of a long school day, he finds a new possibility for love.
I thought that was interesting because at the beginning of the film, it seems like time is barely moving with the counting of the minutes of the alarm clock. Then, all these events unfold so suddenly at school. It was fascinating to see the fast pace of young love displayed in this way. It reminded me how unpredictable and changing that period of life is. Yet, it’s also something almost every human being can relate to.