Breaking new ground in the coming-of-age genre, Marvelous And The Black Hole will make you believe in the power of magic.

I want Kate Tsang to write the story of my life. A titan of modern animated works, the Adventure Time and Steven Universe writer takes viewers on a more grounded but equally magical journey in her debut feature, Marvelous And The Black Hole. It’s about all the things that make us who we are and how hard we try to avoid them even when we know that is impossible. 

Sammy (Miya Cech) is unhappy. Still processing her mother’s death while the rest of her family seemingly moves on, Sammy spends her time causing trouble and tattooing her thigh. A chance encounter with a children’s magician (Rhea Perlman) named Margot provides an escape that Sammy is reluctant to take, but soon the unlikely duo finds themselves on a journey to self-healing that offers both a new perspective on life.

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Cech and Perlman are a perfect duo. Sammy’s youthful angst and cynicism is the spice needed to balance the offbeat charm and razor-sharp wit of Margot. Their lives are separated by decades and countless experiences, but Tsang’s script quickly makes it clear that they are far more similar than not. Neither one of them has this thing called life figured out, and they’re both running from the uncomfortable parts of existence. Together, they find answers in the unlikeliest of places.

Written and directed by Tsang, Marvelous And The Black Hole is a wildly imaginative exploration of grief and identity. Her storytelling style blends the frenetic pacing of Edgar Wright with the tone-balancing talent of Kelly Fremon Craig to create an enthralling and hilarious take on coming-of-age. It’s a movie that appreciates our familiarity with the concept and seeks to subvert expectations through a wide array of overlays, animations, cutaways, and whip-smart editing (courtesy of the great Cyndi Trissel).

The funny thing about trauma, if there is humor in it at all, is how it presents itself in our daily lives. Marvelous And The Black Hole is a major crowdpleaser that teaches us to believe in ourselves and the promise that tomorrow might be better than today. It reminds us that processing grief is never straightforward and that every step forward may be followed by two steps back, but the work to move on is necessary for growth. I will never be as cool as Sammy, but I am better for knowing her story, and you will be as well.