Review: Mega Time Squad is a confusing, hysterical mess of a good time

I'll level with you: I never understand time travel movies.

As soon as a film veers towards multiple timelines, parallel dimensions or rewriting history using a meticulously-laid plan, I experience what feels like a minor brain implosion.

Luckily for me, mind malfunctions don't get in the way of enjoying Mega Time Squad, the only Kiwi movie in the Incredibly Strange section at this year's NZ International Film Festival.

The premise includes all the elements that normally trip me up - multiple manifestations of the lead character, a series of events that must be replayed and manipulated to achieve a happily-ever-after, all made possible by a strange supernatural device.

Local Thames munter John (Anton Tennet) finds himself at the center of this whirlwind, after embarking on an ill-advised heist to win the heart of bomb-making sass-machine Kelly (Hetty Gaskall-Hahn).

In the process, he betrays Kelly's brother and wannabe Mafioso Shelton, played with expert levels of douche-baggery by What We Do In The Shadows' Jonny Brugh.

Review: Mega Time Squad is a confusing, hysterical mess of a good time
Photo credit: Blur and Sharpen

So off our unlikely hero goes, stealing a load of cash from the small-town Triads, along with a mysterious Chinese bracelet that allows him to clone himself into his own little gang.

Cue irresistibly Kiwi, unequivocally hilarious, time-travell-ey chaos.

The line "watch yourself", delivered from one iteration of John fighting with another, has never been so fitting.

Bad guy Shelton, blissfully unaware of impending pandemonium, introduces Johnny to his little sister as "bloody dynamic". Apart from being perhaps the only line his character has that doesn't include some kind of slur, he's right.

John is a perfect protagonist, brilliantly acted by Tennet with a carefully curated smorgasbord of bemused gazes, eyebrow pops, chin juts and "Oh, trues".

The film is full of the dry humour, comic timing and synthy '80s soundtracks we've come to expect from the likes of Taika Waititi; but it absolutely finds its own tone.

Review: Mega Time Squad is a confusing, hysterical mess of a good time
Photo credit: Blur and Sharpen

Director Tim van Damen's background in music videos lends itself brilliantly to the format. The pace of the editing skates just close enough to sensory overload, injecting a retro-charged dose of hysterical self-awareness into the proceedings.

Its grass-roots, mad-cap comedy at its finest, down to van Damen's decision to make all the time vortex sound effects by sucking on McDonald's drinks and popping straws.

So don't try and keep up, just sit back, relax, and allow yourself to be Kung Fu-ed across the space-time-continuum.

Mega Time Squad is playing at the 2018 NZ International Film Festival.