Thursday, September 11, 2008

#65: Fido


Directed by Andrew Currie
Written by Robert Chomiak, Andrew Currie and Dennis Heaton
Released March 16, 2007 (Canada)

This might sound crazy to some of you, especially to those of you who might know me and know how busy I am on a day to day basis, but the tally for movies I've seen since starting this challenge is higher than the daily numbers here.

For example, I've seen Tropic Thunder twice. Or, the other night as I finished a project for an online class, I watched Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects (the sequel to the much more abominable House of 1000 Corpses). Now, had that movie been worth a shit, I would probably have written about it here. Even if it had been awful enough to be interesting, I would have included it here. But it was just... something that happened for 90 minutes. There was no value to it -- positive or negative -- to even bother discussing here.

I had to chalk that one up as a loss.

I caught Fido, a sort of comedy/horror/satire, as a free digital cable movie a few days back and have been considering my review ever since. Don't get me wrong: there's much more of value in Fido than there is in The Devil's Rejects.

First, it is at least an original twist on the zombie movie, a genre that already has plenty of terrible movies clogging up the pipes. Fido takes place in an alternate 1950s America that has just survived the zombie attacks in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. In this America, humans have finally overcome the zombie menace with the help of a large corporation called Zomcon, who have cornered the market on menace control with the special collars they've invented to domesticate the walking dead. Zomcon has also created special fencing that keeps cities all over the country safe from "wild zones" that house the remaining uncontrolled zombie population. Picture "Leave it to Beaver" set amidst 28 Weeks Later.

Second, the look of the movie is perfect for the world that director Andrew Currie is trying to create. The set design and use of color perfectly captures that idealized 50s feeling that we've seen so much in advertising and entertainment of the era.

The casting, including Dylan Baker as the distant father figure, Carrie-Anne Moss as the longing mother, and a near unrecognizable Billy Connolly as the titular Fido, the family zombie who handles chores and plays catch with young Timmy, is spot-on. For the normally verbose and wild Connolly, Fido may be his best performance. He does wonders with just the changes in his eyes and the gnashing of his teeth.

What has me sitting on the fence about Fido is the fact that it just isn't all that funny. There are moments of amusement, and one or two moments that may make you laugh out loud (like the scene where Connolly acts as the zombified version of Lassie), but for the most part the movie winds up being a great premise without a complete execution. None of the lampoonable targets (and you can take your pick, from the conservative 50s setting to the commodification of the military to society's desensitization to violence) get skewered as much as they could. The third act, where Timmy and his creepy neighbor (played by Tim Blake Nelson) break into Zomcon, goes a little too dramatic and falls apart in a way that feels like the writers were confronted with, "Shit, we've got to finish this thing somehow!"

So, maybe I've been a little harsh on Fido. If you find it for free on your local digital cable movie channel, it's a worthwhile distraction. It's not substantive enough for me to fully endorse, but I can think of worse things to do with an afternoon.

Like Gerontology homework.

For more on Fido:
- Movie information at IMDB and Wikipedia.
- Watch some scenes at the official movie site.
- Buy the DVD.

The Fido trailer:

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