Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fido - Zombie is Man's Best Friend


Click here to jump to a SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Plot
The film takes place in a 1950s-esque, alternate universe where radiation from space has turned the dead into zombies. This resulted in the "Zombie Wars", where humanity battled zombies but ended with humanity's victory. In true Romero fashion the radiation still leads to zombification regardless of death. In order to continue living normal lives, communities are fenced with the help of a governing corporation named Zomcon. Zomcon provides collars with accompanying remote controls to control the zombies' hunger for flesh. Zombies are domesticated as slaves/servants. 

In the town of Willard, housewife Helen Robinson (Carrie-Anne Moss) buys a zombie in spite of her husband Bill's (Dylan Baker) zombie phobia. Bill has had bad experiences with zombies in the Zombie Wars. Their son, Timmy (K'Sun Ray), befriends the zombie as a loyal pet, naming him "Fido". One day, Fido's collar malfunctions and he kills their next door neighbor, who in turn becomes a zombie. Timmy "kills" the zombified neighbor later, but not before she kills and infects another person, causing a small outbreak. Zomcom security forces quell the situation and then investigate what caused the outbreak.

When a pair of local bullies are blamed for the missing neighbor, they capture Fido and Timmy. Fido escapes and runs to find Helen, who comes and rescues Timmy from the now zombie bullies. During all the excitement Fido acted without his collar on, overcoming his hunger for human flesh.

Several days later, the neighbor's body is found and the murder is traced back to Fido, who is taken away to Zomcon for destruction. But Timmy learns that Fido is simply working in a factory at Zomcon. Timmy sets out to rescue him with the help of Mr. Theopolis (Tim Blake Nelson). After causing a small zombie outbreak at the factory, Timmy locates Fido, but is captured by Mr. Bottoms. Mean Mr. Bottoms attempts to throw Timmy into the zombie-infested "wild zone", but Papa Bill comes to the rescue. Bill is killed by Mr. Bottoms and Mr. Bottoms get's killed by Fido. The film ends with Fido as a surrogate father and husband to, Timmy and Hellen. They, along with a few neighbors happily enjoy their new domestic lives together, including the zombified Jonathan Bottoms who is now more attentive to his daughter.

The Good, the Bad, and the Gory

The Good
Satire
I bet a few people out there would call this movie a comedy, but a movie with zombies is automatically classified as Horror, which I'm fine with. I love zombies and wouldn't want to push them any farther away from my Horror-filled heart. While low on the horror side, Fido is rich in comedy.

The film's setting is great. I grew up watching TV Land reruns of Leave it to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, and I Dream of Jeannie. I understood the concept of the idealistic, innocent portrayal of the 1950's. It was the image of a wholesome time, when life was simple, without scandal or tragedy  Back when men were men, and women were content. This false-reality America is a great place for writers and directors to contrast the harsh reality of life, as seen in movies like Pleasantville and The Stepford Wives. So why not throw in zombies?

This whole movie is hilarious.  Kid's practicing shooting at school, zombies doing yard work, paying extra for a 'head coffins'  at your funeral. It's great to see the morbid, cruel realities of a zombie apocalypse so dismissed as trivial in cheery neighbourhood.  Kids sneaking into the zombie-shoot simply get a stern talkings-to when they shoot a cop. I think it's all so funny because we tend to accuse the past of trivializing the ugly truth to meet their simplistic vision of life. And I don't care who you are, it is always funny to see people living up to their own stereotype.

And, on simpler note, I love that they treat the zombies like dogs. Putting them on leashes, tying them up at night, only able to respond with grunts (zombie bark). The obvious analogy of Timmy and Fido to Lassie is funny enough. I'm sure you could pick out any number of Lassie episodes in the movie. I just love watching Fido put on his big puppy dog eyes when he's sad.

The Setting
I found that throughout this whole movie my eyes didn't stop darting around the screen, trying to take in every little bit of detail. Everything looked so authentic and life like. Now that might be due to the fact that all the other 50's-set shows I've seen were sitcoms made in the 70's, and I was now just now seeing a 50's portrayal filmed in HD. But whatever, it looked cool to me. I think the dynamic use of color was also used to accent the falsehood and superficiality of the period.

The Casting/Acting
This movie had a dynamite cast (note their movies). All of them were experienced and all of them understood acting in a satire. Henry Czerny (Mission Impossible, Clear and Present Danger) pulls off the stern, militaristic, misogynist excellently. Tim Blake Nelson (Lincoln, O'Brother Where Art Thou) steps in as the creepy neighbor,  Mr. Theopolis, but manages to bring humor and even sympathy into his bizarre role. Dylan Barker (Spider man 2 & 3, The Cell) has had an amazing career as a supporting actor, and shows off his acting chops in Fido. He plays the dumb and distant father. The Father to son talks are so awkward, and Barker manages to look physically uncomfortable throughout the whole move. It's perfect. 

Kesun Loder hasn't done much since his break out roll as Timmy, but he was perfect for the part. He was a small, skinny, smart looking boy. He was able to pull of victimization in a sympathetic way. But the star of the show has to be Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix, Chocolate, Disturbia). She plays the mother. And I'll just say this with no same, even as she has gotten older, she has entered a whole new stage of sunning beauty. She's hot enough to make corpses turn heads, and literally does in the movie. Moss plays a dynamic character going from a shallow, plastic, always-smile mom to an understanding, independent, fight-for-what's-right mom. A fantastic performance. And of course Billy Connolly (Boondocks Saints, The Last Samurai) does a wonderful, albeit quiet, job as Fido. Go listen to him off set, he's got a huge Scottish accent.



The Bad
Ok, honestly, I couldn't think of many bad elements in this movie. Now that doesn't mean this is a perfect movie. Just because it doesn't have as many bad's stacked against it, doesn't mean it outshines other movies with some bads.

Plot
Some people will take issue with the plot of this movie. The plot starts out strong and has a good direction, but kinda fizzle out towards the end. It doesn't have the solid A->B->C plot line formula that lots of people expect. But that being said, I've seen a lot of movies with much better plot lines that were much worse than Fido.

The Gory
If you were hoping this movie would bring all the brain splattering, skull cracking, gore of Shaun of the Dead, then you will be disappointed. In fact this is probably the least graphic zombie movie you could find from the last 30 years. With no nudity, no drugs, and only minimal blood and a couple rubber severed limbs, I'm kinda hard pressed to find any reason for the R rating. This could easily be PG-13.


Canadian Director Andrew Currie

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My Take on it All
I am a lover of all things zombie. Hand's down, my favorite Horror Subgenre. I grew up watching all the zombie apocalypse movies, and loved them, but then as an adult, my tastes changed. While I still enjoyed the classic 'zombie outbreak' movies, I really enjoyed the 'after the apocalypse' concepts like Zombieland, I am Legend, The Walking Dead, and of course the soon to be movie WWZ. I don't just want to see how people survive zombies, but how they live in a world of zombies. Probably because I'd always wonder what the horror hero's did after the credits rolled.

I explained all that simply to say I loved Fido because it showed a post zombie-apocalypse world that returns to innocents and good cheer.  Most films show a hardened, rugged group of survivors and this film shows a fatter, happier group of survivors. I love the contrast.

I love the era too. Even if you took the zombies out of this movie it would still be a funny, sarcastic look at the 50's. Timmy tells his mother about bullies pointing a gun at him, but she is quick to point out the more pressing issue of his dirty shirt. Father Bill has to ask for 'propriety' after receiving his wife's kiss in front of their son. Bill gives his son some sagely advice, "to get over that", 'that' meaning his feelings. Fido gives you what's great about the 50's while making fun of what we hated.

And if you really don't like the 50's, then there is a little string of social defiance just for you. The character of Helen shows a growth of persona in coming to understand her son, their zombie, dancing to the radio, ordering men around, and other such improper things. She is clearly set up as an independent, firm-minded, defiant women.

But the thing that makes this movie is the casualness of it all. I love to imagine a world where the zombie-apocalypse is no big deal. Zomcom officers watch a murderous zombie attack from the comfort of their cop car. While Helen says this isn't normal, she calmly burns the bodies of Timmy's class mates. Little girl Cindy actually prefers her dad as a zombie on a leash. The contrast is funny, and bizarre, and awesome.

The flick is lacking in the scare and gore department, but hey, your nerves could use a rest every now and then.


SPOILER FREE REVIEW
Fido is a comedy/horror about a 1950's world after a zombie-apocalypse where mankind won, and zombies became pets. This film is a satire of the classic, 50's Leave it to Beaver/Lassie story-type. It pokes fun of the era while poking fun of zombies. The humor is dry, and ironic, so slapstick fan's beware. While there are zombie attacks, the gore is low, and I'd be hard pressed to even call it bloody. The movie could really pass for a PG-13. If you have a friend who is terrified of horror movies, this might be a good one to ween them in on. A must see for all zombie and humor fans alike.

Final Grade: A-


Trailer
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Leave your thoughts bellow!

21 comments:

  1. To answer your question, I wouldn't mind having my zombie do the yard-work. I'm not much for mowing grass. Or depending on who the zombie was, I wouldn't mind keeping them around for company or the occasional slow-dance partner.

    I really dig your style - it's thorough and full of flair. I definitely looks forward to more of your stuff. Now excuse me while I dig through your older entries.

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    1. Nice. A slow dance partner for sure. I think zombies have trouble with the Salsa or anything that needs hip movement. Glad you like the review.
      ;)

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  2. Hey. You dropped me a line on my site. I hadn't visited your site, but was glad to follow the link you left me. I really like the style of your reviews. I like you break down of The Good, the scares, the bad, the gory. That's just great for your horror focus. I'll definitely be checking out your site in the future. Good Stuff.

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  3. Great review of a great movie. I like the way you break down the detail in your review. Very well thought out. I'm looking forward to reading more of your reviews!

    I enjoyed Fido myself. My own review can be found here: http://www.conradzero.com/movie-review-fido

    -Zero

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    1. Thanks good chap. Solidarity for the online film critics!

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  4. There I was thinking that I might have been the only person to have watched this film! Great review. I was going to tell you off for not mentioning Billy Connolly, but on closer examination... you've got it covered ;-) Agree with pretty much all you've said... including the rating mystery. My thoughts can be found here: http://theukuleleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/fido-2006.html
    Keep up the good work...

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    1. Your so right. Billy Connolly really deserve an entire page all for himself. Man, I love that accent.
      Keep reviewing great movies, and I'm sure I'll see you around.
      ;)

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  5. We should start a Club of the Fido movie reviewers! Excellent review, very detailed and well documented.

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    1. Yeah... bags you be the Club President! ;-D

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  6. Great review man, thanks for readin' and enjoying mine also!

    Keep it up :)

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  7. I would totally get a zombie servant to do yard work and wash my car. :)

    Your review is quite thorough. You captured what I like about the film very well: the juxtaposition of the idyllic 50's combined with modern subversion (in the wife) and a casual approach to the zombie apocalypse. The one thing you didn't mention was the soundtrack, which I thought enhanced the mood and captured the feel of the film well.

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    1. oh man, you are so right! I totally spaced on the soundtrack. But you are right, that soundtrack totally created the peaceful sublimity of the 50's environment. It immediately pulls me into Leave it to Beaver land.

      Good catch.

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  8. Nice review, glad this movie is still getting some decent cult attention; it's a great fun quirky zombie movie, and, as I mentioned in my review (where you've also commented) it shows just how versatile this genre can really be. Entertaining movie and a good comprehensive write-up too!

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    1. Thank you good sir. And you are right. I can think of a dozen cult-movies of the top of my head that weren't half as good as Fido.
      Good work spreading the word. ;)

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  9. Great review brother! I always suggest this film to people that like off beat zombie films. Thanks for commenting on my blog too, I really appreciate it.

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  10. The Character of Theopolis was great, part hero ,part pervert, but enlightened. that's what I call well rounded. There's only one Tammy.

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    1. I agree with you. You don't know whether to hate him or love him. You see his inhumanity alongside his tenderness. Kinda like drunk uncle. Nice observation.

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  11. I'm a bit late to your review of Fido but pretty much agree. It's a great little film that no one seems to know about; in fact it's one of the reasons I too started a horror blog, to find gems like this I wouldn't have stumbled across any other way. I can see you haven't reviewed anything for a while (like I didn't for 6 months) and look forward to your return and some great zombie reviews. WTD

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  12. Great review. I also love the way the zombie apocalypse is shown in such a positive, satirical light. The black humor really reminds me of RoboCop and Starship Troopers. Thanks for the comment on my blog!

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  13. You may enjoy this Fido Funeral Zombie facebook page I set up. I was a funeral zombie, a 2nd body double for Billy Connolly's Fido character, and a scientist in the movie FIDO.

    https://www.facebook.com/FidoFuneralZombies

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