Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

What makes a good movie? What makes a bad movie?

How is it that some movies hit all the right notes with a thinner than fresh ice plot line while others with an interesting plot line fail to connect?

Personally, I think it is all about knowing who your audience is and who they could be.

Recently I picked up a movie that looked interesting. It was about how tainted chicken nuggets turned a summer school group of kids into zombies.

Cooties_poster (1)In my head this should be a slam dunk in the horror/comedy genre. There is so much you should be able to mine in this territory to be funny.

But from the start, Cooties hit wrong notes. We start with new substitute Elijah Wood asking his mom how she liked his book when she comes to get him up for his first day at a real job. After her positive affirmations, she pulls out every criticism. This was uncomfortable.

Then he gets to school, makes enemies of various teachers by talking abut this is only a way to make money while he works on his book. One of the teachers turns out to be a former classmate. Potential romance, right? NO! Her boyfriend is the very masculine gym teacher.

We also get very unpleasant sequences with Nasim Pedrad, who used to be great on Saturday Night Live. Here she is a tightly wound teacher constantly talking about what the State of Illinois will not let her do.

After that is when the zombie behavior in the kids starts popping out. Let me just say after a slow start, it goes right into gruesome as a sanctimonious character gets torn apart on the blacktop play ground. And that’s where I stopped watching. If you are going to have gruesome in a comedy/horror movie you need it make it funny. And there has to be at least one likable character that you root for to make it to the end.

I didn’t have that with this movie. But I will tell you one zombie movie that made me laugh and be disgusted at the same time. That was Shaun of the Dead. This movie starred Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as two guys somewhere in England fighting off a zombie horde while trying to save Pegg’s former girlfriend and her friends.

Shaun of the DeadWhy does this movie work? First, we actually like Shaun. He might be a bit of a loser but he actually wants to protect his loved ones. Two, the jokes feel realistic and not taken too far. They are not stiff or uncomfortable. Lastly, the gruesome parts are not that gruesome and they wait until far enough into the movie to be an expected thing.

I actually watched this movie all the way through and not just because I had to. I really enjoyed Shaun of the Dead. Cooties, on the other hand, can go back where it came from. My son later watched the movie all the way through and he stated it started to get good around the two third’s way mark into the movie. It’s doesn’t matter how good Rainn Wilson’s performance is by that point, that is when you hang it up.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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