K’Sun Ray, Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly, Dylan Baker, Henry Czerny
Bill: I suppose you think he got so attached to the damn thing because I’m a bad father. I’d say I’m a pretty damned good father! My father tried to eat me. I don’t remember trying to eat Timmy.
Helen: Bill…just because your father tried to eat you, does that mean we all have to be unhappy…forever?
It’s the 1950s (I think), and humans have prevailed in the great Zombie Wars. ZomCon has arisen as the top zombie security company in the nation, and they’ve even developed an electronic collar that will modify a zombie’s behavior so that it’s more docile (i.e. they won’t want to eat you). When little Timmy Robinson’s (Ray) new zombie has a collar malfunction and kills a neighbor, Timmy must try to cover it up before his new friend is taken away.
In case you can’t tell from the plot description, this is a zombie comedy (zomedy?) that’s heavy on dark humor, but surprisingly light on graphic imagery. Sure there are zombie attacks, and a few limbs and/or heads are separated from bodies, but it’s not nearly as disgusting as most zombie movies.
The setup is great (and maybe better than the movie as a whole): with the dead having been reanimated by some sort of cosmic energy, zombies are such common place that even little elementary school kids are expected to become sharp shooters. The sharpest shooter in school is Cindy (Alexia Fast), the daughter of ZomCon’s head of security, Mr. Bottoms (Czerny). Timmy takes an interest in her, but Timmy’s mom, Helen (Moss) takes an interest in the fact that the Bottoms have six zombies working for them, while the Robinsons have none. So, despite her husband’s fear of zombies, she gets a zombie for the family. Dubbed Fido by Timmy, the zombie takes on the role of his friend, protector, and even father figure. There’s a clear, and somewhat heavy handed, parody of Lassie going on here, which is somewhat funny, though nothing new.
The real comedy, to me, is in the little ways life has changed for everyone due to the zombies. Funerals have taken on an interesting look, as the newly deceased have their heads removed and buried in a “head coffin” for fear of them becoming zombies as well. Bill Robinson (Baker) has always insisted he wants a head coffin funeral, while Helen and Timmy eventually start to think that maybe being a zombie wouldn’t be so bad. After all, their cannibalistic ways are not really their fault, it’s just the way they are. After a well written philosophical conversation between mother and son on the subject, they inform Bill that they both plan to “go zombie” when they die.
It may not maintain its energy and humor all throughout the film, but the actors all do a good job of playing the material straight and letting the dialogue create most of the comedy. It’s witty, interesting, creative, and shot so colorfully that I couldn’t help thinking it’s probably the prettiest looking zombie movie ever made. Not that it has much competition in that arena…
Do not become too attached to your servant zombie.
10 – .8 for a few slow parts here and there – 1 for some of the parody/satire moments being heavy-handed – .7 because I thought the zombie performance(s)/behavior could have been done better = 7.5