All you really need to know about Guava Island, the new 55-minute “tropical thriller” directed by Hiro Murai but introduced in the opening credits as “a Childish Gambino film,” is that for three blissful minutes or so Donald Glover sings “Summertime Magic” to Rihanna on a gorgeous and nearly empty beach, both of them bathed in absurdly majestic Maximum Golden Hour light.
The fictional Guava Island, as explained in the second of two whimsical animated intros, was a lush paradise designed as a respite after “the seven gods of the seven lands created the dueling truths: love and war,” said in a silly voiceover redeemed by the fact that the voice in question is Rihanna’s.
She plays a young dreamer named Kofi with a very rom-com-esque secret; Glover plays her lovable-scamp boyfriend, Deni, a locally revered musician who runs afoul of Red Cargo, the locally feared and profit-obsessed island dictator.
Deni wants to throw a lively and playfully incendiary music festival for the whole island on Saturday night; Red Cargo, who needs everyone back toiling on his docks and in his factories Sunday morning, would very much prefer Deni didn’t, and will smash a guitar and/or dispatch an assassin to insure Deni doesn’t.
There’s no time for the screenplay (written by Donald’s brother Stephen Glover) to sketch out Deni or Kofi much beyond the fact that they’re beautiful, restless people played by beautiful, famous people, much like everyone else on screen.