Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fido (Canada, 2006)

(Trailer.) Andrew Currie reveals a fine directorial hand and vision in his first theatrical release, a Canadian-produced zombie comedy entitled Fido (2006). The film is but one of many that has appeared due to the recent resurged wave of popularity of gut-munching zombies that followed Danny Boyle’s non-zombie zombie film 28 Days Later (2002/trailer) and the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead (trailer), a popularity that quickly also carried over to the comic take on the topic, as is evidenced by the success of such fine films as Shawn of the Dead (2004/trailer) and Slither (2006/trailer). But while the two latter zombie comedies owe more to postmodernist b-movie sensibilities and a healthy respect to George Romero and David Cronenberg, Fido's sensibility is shaped by a weird amalgamation of Pleasantville (1998/trailer) and the innocence of such films as Lassie (1954) or even the first zombie comedy of them all (and eternal guilty pleasure), Zombies on Broadway (1945). Fido is very much the mutant offspring of Leave It to Beaver (1957-63), The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68) and The Night of the Living Dead (1968/trailer), liberally influenced by Father Doesn’t Know Best (1954-60), a television show that surely must exist in some alternative universe somewhere.
Fido more-or-less takes up where Shawn of the Dead leaves off, with the domestication of zombies as menial servants, but moves everything back to the Technicolor ideal of Middle America 1950s when intact families lived in suburban house with white picket fences and men earned the money while the dissatisfied housewives did the housework – at least they did if their husbands were too stingy (or zombie-phobic) to acquire an in-house zombie from Zomcom, the firm that created the collar that subdues the zombie hunger for live flesh and now controls the distribution rights of the living dead. The Zombie Wars are long over, and across America people live happily in fenced-in enclaves of safety, forever alert for the moment that Granddaddy drops dead of a heart attack on the front lawn and little Dick and Jane have to shoot him through the head instead of running away with their dog Spot. (And to ensure that they can do just that, shooting is part of their schooling, where the song they sing during class has such memorable lines as: "In the brain and not the chest. Head shots are the very best.") Timmy Robinson (K'Sun Ray) is the school geek, the skinny boy prone to ask questions that cause uncomfortable silences, the outsider classmate that even the town's Scouts beat-up on. When Mr. Bottoms (Henry Czerny), the head of security at Zomcom, and his family move in across the street, Timmy's mom Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) decides she no longer wants to be the only one on the block without a house zombie, so she orders Fido (Billy Connolly) – much to the displeasure of her husband Bill (Dylan Baker), who still hasn't gotten over having to kill his own dad when he went zombie and tried to eat his son. Since then, Bill has just never been able to get close to people, something under which both his wife and son suffer. Slowly but surely, the curious, gentle and friendly Fido begins to win over the hearts of both Timmy and Helen, for as dead as Fido is physically, he is still more alive than the living, breathing Bill. The big problem is that Fido's collar doesn’t always work right, and soon he makes the bitchy old lady next door dinner. But even though Timmy manages to bump off and bury his newly zombified neighbour, one mistake leads to another and Timmy and Helen lose the most-liked man of their house when Fido is recalled by Zomcom. Timmy undertakes to rescue Fido with the help of his neighbour Mr. Theopolis (Tim Blake Nelson), who is particularly understanding about how attached one can become to one's zombie. But Mr. Bottoms catches Timmy in the act and locks him outside the fence in the dead zone. Can anyone, alive (his Dad) or dead (Fido), save Timmy?
That the film is an oddity goes without saying, but it is also a damn lot of intelligent fun. Although not exactly kiddy viewing, it is hardly as bloody as Shawn of the Dead or Dead & Breakfast (2004/trailer) and can thus easily be enjoyed even by those not prone to horror films. Fido has a skewering and skewered but dead-on satiric eye that takes the piss out of a lot more than just zombies and/or traditional family values. Aided by excellent production values, fine (at times sublime) acting and well thought-out script, Fido is a smart comedy that even stupid people can enjoy.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...