Review: Justin Long gets lost in ‘The Wave,’ a trippy, comic exploration of the universe

Donald Faison and Justin Long in the movie 'The Wave'
Donald Faison, left, and Justin Long in the movie “The Wave.”
(Epic Pictures Group)

Imagine a hallucinogenically induced take on “The Hangover” capped with a bizarro cosmic payoff and you’ve got a trippy semblance of “The Wave,” a fitfully frenetic first feature by British music video and documentary director Gille Klabin.

On the verge of gaining an elusive promotion, married, straight arrow corporate insurance lawyer Frank (Justin Long) makes the nightmarish mistake of agreeing to a celebratory night out on the town with persuasive work buddy Jeff (Donald Faison).

He ends up at a house party where he and the equally persuasive Theresa (“A Girl Walks Home at Night” vamp Sheila Vand) share a mysterious drug dispensed by an intimidating bearded Scottish guru (a memorable Tommy Flanagan), sending Frank on a time-warping quest to find the now-missing Theresa, his wallet and, in due course, his role in the universe.

While Long gives it his trademark amiable best and Klabin and longtime collaborator Patrick Lawler cook up a heady cocktail of lively though budget-conscious visual effects, at the end of the day the Carl W. Lucas script feels more like a concept pitch than a fully-plotted proposition.

By the time a now lucid Frank finally acknowledges the cryptic messages that have been relentlessly swirling around him, “The Wave’s” giddy effect comes crashing down where viewer involvement is concerned.

‘The Wave’

Rated: R, for strong drug content and language throughout, some disturbing images and sexual reference.

Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood; also on VOD