Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss, Dylan Baker, K'Sun Ray, Tim Blake Nelson, Henry Czerny
Director: Andrew Currie
If you don’t know about the zombie renaissance currently taking place in Hollywood, you probably haven’t been to the movies much during the last five years. It all started with an inception of straight-on horror/action flicks like “Resident Evil,” “28 Days Later” and “Dawn of the Dead,” but the zombie genre quickly broke its constraints when a couple of guys from the U.K. used the flesh-eating somnambulists as the main focus of their romantic comedy, “Shaun of the Dead.” It’s been three years since the genre received such a fresh take, but with Andrew Currie’s “Fido,” the Canadian filmmaker proves that the zombie comedy (or zom com) isn’t dead yet.
“Fido” opens just like every movie about the 1950s should: with a black-and-white instructional film. It’s here that we learn of the aptly named Zombie Wars, the ZomCom corporation founded as a result, and the manner in which zombies have been transformed into personal servants. Delivering newspapers, mowing lawns, and even replacing blow-up dolls for the totally perverted (Tim Blake Nelson), the grey-skinned undead are all kept in check with a simple radio collar that prevents them from feeding on their owners.
This doesn’t make Bill Robinson (Dylan Baker) any less uneasy about his wife’s (Carrie-Anne Moss) decision to finally get a zombie (Billy Connolly) – despite his loner son’s (K’Sun Ray) immediate fascination with him – and mere days after bringing Fido home, his collar goes on the fritz, causing him to take a chomp out of the neighborhood busybody. In fact, it seems like the ZomCom-produced collars aren’t very reliable. That doesn’t stop the mega corporation from blaming the respective owners for their zombie’s disobedience, however, and in order to save his family from certain exile, Timmy covers up the accident, only to later discover that it’s caused a zombie outbreak in the small town.
As the title character, Billy Connolly is horribly wasted; to the point that you have to wonder just how much preparation he did for what amounts to a series of moans, groans and reaction shots. In fact, the performances are all relatively mediocre (though Moss and Baker are definitely having fun playing the stereotypical 50s couple) and the story is rather bare, but that doesn’t stop Currie from trying to stretch a single joke into a feature-length film. And for the most part, it works, perhaps only because the audience gets so lost in the meticulous production design by Rob Gray that it’s easy to forgive the film’s shortcomings. “Fido” is the kind of film that succeeds solely because its basic premise is so strikingly original, and though the second half of the movie never quite replicates the laugh-out-loud humor of the first, it’s still an entertaining romp that should be chalked up as a must-see for any fan of the genre.
A quick glance at the back of the “Fido” DVD may have you believing the single-disc release is loaded with special features, but it falls well short of that first impression. Most of the extras that appear are either too brief (“Making of Fido”) or unnecessary (select scene audio commentary with composer Don MacDonald), while the only real highlight of the disc is the hidden audio commentary with director Andrew Currie and Carrie-Anne Moss. I say hidden because it’s located in the Audio Setup screen, but once you do track it down, it offers interesting nuggets on the wonderful production design and praise for Billy Connolly’s performance. Rounding out the disc is a handful of deleted scenes (with optional commentary), a short blooper reel, and a collection of galleries including conceptual art and a slideshow of Connolly’s zombie transformation.