LITTLE MONSTERS *** Australia / USA 2019 Dir: Abe Forsythe. 99 mins
Writer-director Abe Forsythe’s movie begins with a wonderfully crude and sour insight into the shite life of an eternal loser and ends with Hanson’s “Mmmbop” – which tells you everything you need to know about its dramatic tonal shifts. Alexander England is good value as a foul-mouthed layabout who catches his bored girlfriend shagging an unattractive workmate and moves in with his sister and nephew. He volunteers to help on the latter’s kindergarten excursion to Pleasant Valley Petting Zoo, mostly so he can try and shag radiant teacher Lupita Nyong’o. Turns out the school trip is near an American army base that has just become host to a zombie outbreak.
This has huge early promise, with England a splendidly unpleasant anti-hero and a stand-out early gag involving awkward masturbation over a class photo. Nyong’o’s natural appeal and fine comic timing gives the movie real heart as she leads kids into a conga to distract them from the carnage and proves resilient with decapitation techniques. Unfortunately, the script requires an unlikely and rapid character transformation for England’s character from irredeemable man-child to (far less funny) loveable potential-Dad / viable-boyfriend material via a ukulele redux of “Sweet Caroline”. The novelty casting of FROZEN’s Josh Gad as an abysmal TV children’s entertainer who gets through his work day by fucking willing mums is a limited joke that exists for a punchline in which he shits his pants during a zombie attack. The kids are cute, but there’s no real threat because, despite early hints of heartlessness, the movie isn’t ruthless enough to kill anyone beyond the obvious bastards and minor characters. Thus, after a spirited start, this slick, well produced picture proves too soft to satisfy zombie fans and too gory to appeal to a family comedy audience.
Review by Steven West