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Fido (2006)

by on 2012/10/09

Bill (the Spider-Man series’ Dylan Baker) and Helen Robinson (Memento’s Carrie-Anne Moss) are a deeply dysfunctional couple, deluding themselves through an alternate 1950s. In this reality, a Zombie War seems to have taken the place of the Korean one . . . or maybe the Second World War. It may not matter.

More to the point, they’re both lying to Timmy (K’Sun Ray), their child who should know better, and exploiting and disrespecting Fido (Billy Connolly), their zombie pet-slash-slave. These (latter) two get into trouble, directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of uncounted victims.

Oh, and Mrs. Robinson is sort of sweet on Fido.

Okay, to start, why use zombies as . . . do we call them “the help”? In nearly every single scene, the irony is hammered home: they’re slow, apparently unintelligent, and clumsy. They make mistakes, miss targets, drop things, and break them. Whether intended as comment or comedy, it’s taken too far, too often, to the story’s detriment. It’s funny for a while and then . . . ugh, enough.

How can I possibly accept the central conceit that the unsavoury dead are harnessed at great expense to add no value? Simple. I can’t. The zombies were people once cared-about, now saddled with unrealistic expectations, and indefinitely tortured in various ways. It’s really creepy.

No, wait, I know . . . it’s actually satirical. It’s commentary, a mirror held up to show us our own world in metaphor. Can we recognize parallels to our exploitations? Do we ignore issues and demonize victims, inured to our evils? Are we enabled by Big Business and The Media, by their cover-ups and distractions?

Fair enough to raise such issues, but a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, as they say, and a surplus of saccharin just doesn’t count. Taken to both extremes of dark and light, it risks alienating either side for the other, and likely loses the mainstream out of the middle.

In its favour, the production boasts great retro trappings. The sights and sounds existing in-frame, everything rings true as vintage. It’s more than the bikes, cars, hats, smoking, and white picket fences. It’s activities . . . picnics and gardening. It’s the framing and grain of the black and white footage, the palette and saturation of the colours. It’s rear projection scenes and silhouette shots. It’s production-library tunes punctuating action, and droning Muzak filling out the background.

Make no mistake, I enjoy that era’s trappings, but I tired of the ends to which they were put. In its constituent parts, it looks and sounds admirable, is very well crafted, and has things of substance to say. However, I didn’t enjoy it overall, was unsatisfied, and probably wouldn’t rewatch it. I’ll kind of split the difference and go with “respectable”.

So, what do you say? Are you psyched for something respectable?

* * *

Rated 14A

92 minutes

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