With a runtime of 40 minutes, Miyubi is the longest VR film made so far.
Funny or Die is one of those websites that just seems too good to be true. Founded in 2007 by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy, the video comedy site has been responsible for some of the decade’s most memorable sketches and series. The infamous Landlord sketch, Zach Galifiankist’s ultra popular Between Two Ferns series, the memorable Beiber After The Dentist parody. They are just a handful of the legendary content available on the trendsetting website. Now the multimedia studio is looking to extend their unique brand of humor into unknown comedic territories, including VR.
Available for viewing now on the Oculus Rift or Gear VR via the Oculus Store, Miyubi is VR film places you in the shoes of “Miyubi,” a toy robot adopted by a dysfunctional midwestern family during 1982. Created in partnership with Felix & Paul Studios, the film starts with you being unwrapped by your new kid-owner, only to quickly delve into the lives of the entire family. This includes smoking joints with the disgruntled older brother, to attending tea parties with the young little sister.
However, whereas much of Funny or Die’s comedic style relies on laugh-out-loud scenes and ridiculous circumstances, Miyubi instead delves deeper into 80s nostalgia and the families rocky relationships. In fact, the film actually hits on some darker tones at certain points, making this more of an experimental foray into lengthier virtual reality film experiences rather than a conventional comedic feature.
On top of a passive, storytelling experience, the film also has several interactive moments scattered throughout. For example, at one point you find your robot-self standing in front of a mirror. Users are able to move their head and watch the mirror reflection mimic their movements in real-time. Even cooler is an in-experience discovery game that tasks users with recovering hidden objects. Collecting them all reveals a secret scene where you access the deep inner memories of Miyubi and actually meet his creator, played by the effortlessly talented Jeff Goldblum.
Of course the real question everyone should be asking themselves is whether or not this story justifies a 40 minute runtime. The answer is a murky “yes” and “no.” While the story does drag a bit as it progresses, often relying on tired ploys and predictable outcomes, at no point did I find myself desperate to take my headset off.
A unique filmmaking style and interesting cinematography make for an enjoyable experience despite some clunky storytelling. The interactive moments also add brief moments of refreshing change, breaking up the passive experience at crucial points. The result is an incredibly imaginative experience that should be on the must-watch list of any film or virtual reality enthusiast. Overall it was an enjoyable experience that just seemed 20 minutes too long.
So while Miyubi won’t be winning an Oscar anytime soon, the film will absolutely remain a staple in VR filmmaking for years to come. Creating a 5-10 minute VR experience that users want to sit through in its entirety is hard. Creating a 40 minute VR experience that keeps you interested and engaged throughout is truly something extraordinary.
Miyubi is available now for FREE via the Oculus Store.