Life After Beth
Release Date: OUT NOW!
2014 | 15 | Blu- ray/ DVD Director: Jeff Baena Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, Anna Kendrick, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, Matthew Gray Gubler, John C Reilly
Don’t you just
hate the way any new zombie comedy is inevitably compared to Shaun Of The Dead? Surely a movie can be judged on its own terms! Well, sorry… but we’re about to do it again.
To be fair, there’s more reason to do so here than is often the case. There are points of comparison between Shaun and this latest zomcom – and not just the punning use of Christian names. Both have romantic elements; both make use of suburban settings; both draw comedy from awkward relationships with parents.
Dane “Green Goblin” DeHaan plays the grieving Zach, who’s bewildered to discover that his late girlfriend Beth ( Parks And Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza) has, impossibly, returned to life. Beth’s mum and dad are keen to keep this “resurrection” under wraps, but this proves increasingly difficult, since she’s returned with intense appetites and superhuman strength…
Both DeHaan and Plaza are perfectly suited to their roles, but somehow the film’s never quite as amusing as it should be. There are some winning sight gags – like a decaying Beth stumbling about with a cooker strapped to her back, after an unsuccessful attempt to subdue her. But flashes of wit are few and far between.
More critically, it’s never really that affecting – unlike Shaun, which stirred genuinely heartbreaking moments of tragedy into the mix. The eventual revelation that the couple’s relationship was far from perfect feels like a rotten miscalculation, as does the ease with which Zach moves onto a new squeeze. If he doesn’t care all that deeply about Beth, why should we? It’s a great premise, but one that the screenplay doesn’t quite live up to.
Plaza, DeHaan and co- star Matthew Gray Gubler join writer/ director Jeff Baena for a commentary. There’s also a Making Of ( 16 minutes), and 20 minutes of deleted scenes; some of these feature Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat as a friend of Zach’s – a character completely cut from the film. Ian Berriman Plaza bought Jeff Baena ( her boyfriend) helicopter lessons in case of a zombie apocalypse. But he didn’t take them.
Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares? Pah – nothing!