Here we are, folks, the first official zombie movie review of 2009: Fido, starring Carrie-Anne Moss (the Matrix trilogy), Billy Connolly (about a zillion different things), Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother Where Art Thou?) and Dylan Baker and Henry Czerny (two character actors you'll recognize from everywhere).
Fido takes place in an alternate-reality 1950s American small town, Willard. It's an alternate reality because not too long ago, Earth got infested with some space dust that turned all dead humans into zombies. If they weren't buried deeply enough, they'd claw their way to the surface. If they dropped dead of a heart attack on the sidewalk, moments later they'd lurch to their feet, hungry for human flesh. Not a good scene. So the Zombie Wars happened, and the humans learned that the only way to keep them down was to separate the zombie's head from the body. Once the living got the upper hand, they built fences around their little enclaves - like cute little small town Willard - and the normal way of life resumed. Even better, an enterprising company, Zomcon, came up with technology that subsumed the zombies' zest for flesh: snap the electric collar on one and you've got a docile slave, good for household chores and other demeaning jobs.
Young Timmy Robinson, an only child, is the target of bullies until his socially-climbing mother Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) brings a house-zombie home. Over Bill Robinson's (Dylan Baker) protests, they keep the zombie, whom Timmy names "Fido." Lonely Timmy teaches Fido to play catch and the two quickly bond, the neutered zombie soon displaying more humanity than Timmy's repressed father does. When a malfunction in Fido's collar allows him to kill and eat the nasty neighbor lady, Timmy learns that there are real life consequences to pet ownership.
This flick qualifies as a zom-com for sure. It's very funny, in a sly sort of way, poking fun at the issues of gun ownership, xenophobia, materialism, slavery and disposal of the dead. It's also rated R for "zombie-related violence" although it is less gory than Shaun of the Dead - zombies will be zombies, and they will eat their pound (or more) of flesh, if given half the chance. I thought it was great fun.
Extra special thanks to my old, old, old, old (as in grade-school-old) friends, Joe B. and Wayne R., for recommending this movie to me. One of them described it as "Pleasantville with zombies" which was more than enough to get me to see it. You should too.
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