MOVIE: Fido (2006)

I hate to start any piece of writing with the phrase “Holy crap,” and yet, I’m not sure I can resist in this case. Because, HOLY CRAP, was this movie an absolute blast!  In fact, I think it might be one of the most brilliant and thoroughly entertaining movies I have ever seen in my entire life. I kid you not.  I’ll have to watch it at least one more time before I can be absolutely sure about that, but the first time around, I adored every single moment.  As soon as it was over, I flipped open my laptop and added the DVD to my Amazon.com wishlist, marking it “Highest” priority to encourage somebody to buy me a copy for my next birthday.  This is a movie I will be watching over and over, and you can definitely expect to see it on this December’s list of “Top Ten Movies I Saw in 2007” too. Don’t be surprised, in fact, if it scores the #1 slot — that’s how much I loved this completely ridiculous thing.

This crazy-brilliant film is set in the idyllic 1950’s, with the setting looking every bit as “classic 50’s” as an episode of Leave it to Beaver. To set up the plot for us, the movie opens with one of those crinkly old black-and-white educational films from our youths — remember those? The film tells us the history of the Zombie War: Years ago, the Earth was exposed to some type of radiation that turned any newly-dead people into zombies. Because it’s the 50’s, before Romero’s time, it took the humans a couple of months to realize they could kill the zombies by destroying their brains (head shots with a gun, decapitations with shovels, etc.). As soon as they realized this, though, they quickly  launched an all-out war against the zombies — and won.

Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do about the radiation, which, the educational movie tells us, still lingers. This means that anybody who dies, even from natural causes, still turns into a zombie unless their head is immediately chopped off.  Enter a company named Zomcon which developed a device that can be put around the neck of a zombie and renders them harmless — as long as the device is active. Using these collars, Zomcon quickly made a fortune and, in essence, took over the neighborhood, dividing the area into two sections:  a fenced-in safe zone and the “Wild Zone,” where zombies still roam free.

In the safe zone, a lovely little Leave it to Beaver town has sprung up, and the number one status symbol in this brave new world is a Zomcon-collared zombie houseservant.  All the upper-middle-class people have one, and when the CEO of Zomcon himself moves in next door, Helen Robinson, mother of Timmy and wife to Bill, decides it’s time they had one too.  So, one night Bill gets home from work to discover Fido working in the kitchen — an adult male zombie Helen has purchased to help around the house.

Bill, however, is still traumatized from the time he had to kill his own zombie-fied father back in the early days of the Zombie War — this is why he’s resisted buying a zombie thus far.  But, to make his wife happy, he reluctantly agrees to let Fido stay.  Timmy, on the other hand, a geeky kid with few friends, is immediately enamored of Fido, treating him like the family pet instead of the family manservent.  He starts teaching Fido how to play ball, and the two spend a lot of their time together.  Ah, a boy and his zombie.  So sweet!

Things get a little complicated, though, the day Fido’s collar blinks out and he manages to eat the old lady next door before Timmy can stop him.  If your zombie kills a human, you can be sent to the Wild Zone for punishment, so Timmy is too afraid to tell anybody what has happened.  Panicked, doesn’t do anything with the old lady’s body, and pretty soon, there are wild zombies loose in the Safe Zone.  When the Zomcon CEO realizes Fido was to blame, he takes him away from the Robinsons to have him “put down.”  But it’s not long before Timmy realizes what’s really happened — that the CEO has actually taken Fido back to Zomcon headquarters and put him to work in a sweatshop there.

Ensue elaborate plan to bust Fido out and teach Zomcon a lesson about enslaving the undead.

The plot, though, while thoroughly entertaining, is hardly the point of this riotously funny movie.  I mean, the concept alone is just so much fun — the movie is essentially an episode of Lassie, with a zombie taking the place of the furry dog (Timmy is clearly even named “Timmy” just so we can have a scene in which he’s tied up by some bullies and Fido has to run for his mother, who, upon seeing the distressed zombie struggling to communicate something to her says, “What is it, boy?  Is Timmy okay?  Take me to Timmy, Fido!”) .  And the commercials that periodically play on the family television set just had me rolling (my favorite features a little girl whose grandfather promptly has a heart attack, causing her to exclaim into the camera, “Grandpa’s fallen. . . and he’s GETTING UP!”).  It’s an absolutely brilliant satire of those classic 50’s TV shows, zombie movies in general, and a variety of other tidbits of pop culture from recent years.

Gorgeous sets, terrific acting (especially from Carrie Anne Moss as Mrs. Robinson, who even begins to develop a very sweet little platonic crush on Fido at one point), and writers who were having a VERY good time coming up with the dialogue — I absolutely adored this movie and can’t wait to see it again.  And I think it’s one even non-zombie-movie-lovers would enjoy.  There are a few scenes of typical zombie flesh-eating, but the gore is extremely minimal — I don’t even think they’d edit this one for TV, frankly, and instead of being scary, it’s simply downright charming.

In fact, I bet even my Mom would like this one — what do you say, Mom?  You game for this over Thanksgiving when I’m down visiting again?

Highly, HIGHLY recommended!  92 minutes of sheer awesomeness.  And if you’ve seen it already and you hated it, don’t even bother telling me so in the comments, because I’ll simply plug my ears with my fingers and start chanting, “La la la I can’t hear you la la la.”  Pfft.
[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Comedy

Cast: Carrie Anne-Moss, Billy Connolly, Dylan Baker, Tim Blake Nelson, K’Sun Ray, Henry Czerny

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