“Zoom,” a rather terrible comedy-satire, bears the DNA of at least two strains of terrible films. One is the kind of international co-production that mixes disparate cinematic cultures to contradictory effect. Here the sponsoring countries are Canada and Brazil, and if you think the cerebral chill of the former might be nicely balanced by the tropical heat of the latter, you haven’t encountered “Zoom”’s way of turning the unlikely convergence into a self-canceling formula.
The second kind of terrible film are those which resemble graphic novels. Why is it that big cartoon creations like Batman and the whole Marvel menagerie can yield very credible, sometimes excellent movies while graphic novels tend to produce overly self-conscious mediocrities? It could be that comic books create their own discrete worlds which often are readily transferred to movie form. Graphic novels, on the other hand, generally ape movies in their form and thus end up occupying a space that’s weirdly neither this nor that: part-graphic, half-novel, not wholly either.
“Zoom” interweaves three stories, one of which is animated, but it’s not the latter fact that evokes the perils of graphic-novels-into-films. Rather, it’s the whole movie’s way of nudging the viewer at every turn that the three stories are all fictions linked to the characters in the others, a tack that recalls the kind of too-clever-by-half, self-reflexive conceits that seem to be by-products of the graphic novel’s hybrid nature.
Like a mutant descendant of Atom Egoyan’s “Exotica,” the film’s first tale opens with a couple having sex in a factory that makes life-sized sex dolls. (If you didn’t know going in that “Zoom” was part Canadian, this scene would be a dead giveaway.) Emma (Alison Pill) is just taking a break from her work here, but her real passion is as a cartoonist. Working around so many anatomically superlative female figures, though, has made her self-conscious of certain perceived deficiencies in her own form. So she scrapes together the money for plastic surgery and emerges with two enormous breasts.