Up in the heavens, God is a stressed-out software developer, making adjustments to the cosmos on his computer as he tests out a new program called Multiverse. He’s also a busy single parent who can’t seem to get a break from his rambunctious kids, an angel and devil who are always fighting and baby Jesus screaming in the background.
One particular day when the kids are acting up and melting down, he’s too busy to pay attention to his computer, and the cosmos goes slightly awry — leading to a creation of a very different world as we know it.
This fun, rollicking animated short — made by the team at acclaimed Danish animation house Tumblehead — is a unique “alternate world” take on the story of creation, imagining the “great creator” in a new way that’s likely highly relatable in the age of pandemic parenting, though the was made before the global onset of COVID-19. With great wit and an almost acrobatic sense of invention, it hops, skips and wiggles around the cosmos, imagining the comedic mayhem that results when the loose ends of creation are left dangling.
Portrayed in a mix of 2D and 3D animation, the scale of the storytelling is vast, as the distracted half-made adjustments by God play out throughout the universe. Dinosaurs, people and other creatures evolve in unexpected ways, which play out over a wide-ranging tapestry of time and space. Adam — the original man — in particular has an eventful, consequential run-in with an alien, with amusing consequences.
Like many animated shorts, it takes advantage of the imaginative possibilities of the medium to cram the 7-minute runtime with gags, jokes and flourishes of whimsy, starting with the creation of a universe by a computer program called Multiverse, which vaguely resembles an old program of Windows. It’s funny to imagine that the whole of the cosmos can be compressed into one app, but with the vagaries of technology, it also means that mistakes can propagate much faster and much more widely.
In order to scale such breadth in terms of story and scope, the pacing is lightning-fast, giving the story’s events a zaniness that resembles slapstick and farce, as well as the great cartoons of the 1950s. It gives the film a particularly family-friendly feeling, though there’s plenty of subversive jokes in the action that grown-ups will appreciate, with details and cues that point to various conspiracy theories and religious references. This wealth of detail all snowballs to hilarious effect, until God himself finally gets a break from parenting emergencies to notice the warning on his computer, and the chaos it has wrought in his creation.
As a funny riff on the notion of worldbuilding and perhaps even the idea of “doing it all” as a parent, “Tales From the Multiverse” is a skewed take on creation and the origins of the universe. Its central conceit could easily be stretched and explored in different directions for a larger project, and it’s fun to imagine all the different ways the multiverse could morph — and imagine God as the ultimate parent, trying to balance home and job duties like so many other moms and dads working from home, and trying to keep his sanity in the process.