Rated PG-13, mostly for monster horror action. The movie prides itself on its character creation, so there's some genuinely gnarly looking oogie-boogies in this movie. But the movie also really stresses a sexual element. The movie actually starts with the protagonist narrator commenting on all of the people in his life that are having sex. But that's kind of a background thing to the gross deaths that the movie stresses. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Michael Matthews
I'm so stressed out now, you wouldn't believe. When I have to make a To-Do List for all the stuff that I need to get done before I go home, you know things have gotten bad. Well, blogging was on that list. I know. It seems pretty low priority. It's just that, if I'm balancing when things can happen, I can only blog right now. So this is going to be written with a frantic energy that I'm probably going to regret later on, but that's okay. Done is better than perfect.
Love and Monsters showed up on my watch list because up for visual effects. These are the dangerous movies, if I have to be honest. You don't really know what you are getting into when it comes to these movies. I mean, I watched a lot of the Disney live-action remakes because of the visual effects category. Love and Monsters is almost exactly what you think it is. Michael Matthews delivers on the central conceit, so at the end of the day, it all comes down to you. To really love a movie like Love and Monsters, a movie that shares a title with an infamous Doctor Who episode, you have to have a couple things under your belt. Do you mind a movie that is derivative? It sounds like a real slam against this movie, but it is also really honest. Everything is derivative of something else, but this one is almost shamelessly a clone of Zombieland. So, if you are okay with a movie kind of being a copy of something else, you also have to be cool with the OG version of the same film: Zombieland.
Now, I loved the first Zombieland. Zombieland: Double Tap didn't do too much for me because it felt like a rehash of the first movie just a bit too much. That statement alone should give you insight into what I thought about Love and Monsters. If Double Tap was fine, then Love and Monsters is going to come across as just fine to me. It has the slightly twee indie narration. It's about fighting monsters in the post-apocalypse. It's got over-the-top characters and gore beyond belief. But the only big differences are the fact that Love and Monsters prides itself on being PG-13 and that it is bugs instead of zombies. That PG-13, by the way, oddly allows me to give the movie a sense of respect. That may seem like I like my stuff watered-down or that I'm a prude. I suppose that might be some of my personality. But I also really look at it as something that will slightly adjust the tone.
I'm going to preface this next section by stating that I have rarely had more fun than the original Zombieland when it was in theaters. My wife and I saw it together and had a great time. It was superfluous and over-the-top. It hit some of the same notes that Grindhouse did in the best possible ways. But there is something about getting too much of a good thing. When Love and Monsters decided to go for the PG-13 route, it had a potentially unexpected side-effect: It made the movie more vulnerable. I'm not going out on a limb and pretend that this is some wholesome and emotionally aware movie. But because the protagonist couldn't be slightly the worst, he had to become somewhat heroic. As much as we root for Columbus in Zombieland, we do so because we want to see hilarious carnage. Yeah, he's a relatable protagonist. He doesn't have that superhero element to him. But he's also super-punchable. Joel in Love and Monsters, however, is actually an honestly sympathetic guy. He's a guy who sees the goodness in others. As bleak as the world is, his optimistic perspective, due to a PG-13 attitude, make him someone worth rooting for.
It doesn't take for granted that Joel's quest for Aimee is naive on the point of being criminal. Clyde and Minnow take care of Joel, which only endangers them all the more. But because Joel has a little-engine-that-could quality, we want to view the world in the same way that Joel does. I know that lots of stories, especially genre stories, stress the importance of the journey over the destination. But Joel's journey is what makes him far more interesting. He isn't better for arriving at Aimee. Aimee, as sweet as she is and as fair as her reactions are, kind of sucks in a very specific sense: she can't possibly live up to Joel's expectations of her. I really want to backpedal that she sucks because Aimee is more of a fully realized human being. It's almost obvious from moment one that Aimee can't possibly be the girl that Joel has built her up to be. But Joel is able to find self-worth through the course of the story. Sure, I'm advocating that a movie about a white male needs to focus on his self-worth, but I work with what I got.
Joel voluntarily goes back to his original commune because of the things that he learned along the way. And he also decides that life isn't all about coupling (although it totally is and I love you, my wife). Rather, his relationship with his dog and the knowledge that he can hold his own, despite the fact that no one believes in him makes him this courageous and fantastic character. I mean, as clever as this movie is, I think that Columbus in Zombieland is more clever. But do you know who I root for more? Joel. Joel has got the nice balance of what a nice guy character should have. He's actually nice and there's never this expectation that Aimee has to love him because he's nice. He actually accepts rejection quite gracefully, which is why he ends up with the happier ending in the long run. Yeah, it might be considered a little gross, making the grand romantic gesture. But he's also painfully aware that the huge romantic gesture would probably fall flat on its face. It's this great balance of romantic and pragmatic that we don't often get in stories like this.
Yeah, the pirate story seems a bit much. It's there for the sake of plot and to show that Joel has actually grown in his travels. But in terms of actual plot, I don't really care. The story isn't actually very good. But Love and Monsters --and I don't think the filmmakers would really deny it --is all about characterization and atmosphere. It's a bit of the indie rock traverse of the post-apocalypse and I slightly dig it. It's not great. Lord knows I grew a little bored of it at timers. But it has pretty solid heart in it, considering it is almost a direct copy of another movie franchise. But that's okay in the long run. If you go in with low expectations, this movie shouldn't really disappoint.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.