Retro Review: FIDO (2007){0}

It’s a zombie flick, a broad comedy, a clever satire, and a bizarrely touching “coming of age” story all at once. No, it’s not the sort of zombie movie that’ll have you hiding your eyes in fear, but if you’re a big fan of the undead sub-genre, you’ll probably find a lot to like in Andrew Currie’s “Fido.” It’s sort of like a 1950s melodrama got dropped into a blender along with Dawn of the Dead, Mad Magazine, and a particularly clever Saturday Night Live sketch. Say what you like, but “Fido” is far and away the finest zombie comedy to come from British Columbia.

Newcomer K’Sun Ray plays little Timmy Robinson, a perfectly sweet ’50s kid (think “Leave it to Beaver”) who has a loving mom (Carrie-Anne Moss) and an entirely old-school pop (Dylan Baker). Everything about the Robinson household would be perfectly, predictably normal … except for the fact that zombies have ravaged the planet, leaving only a few perky pockets of humanity. And humans being the resourceful buggers that they are, they’ve found a use for the teeming undead: as domestic servants.

Yes, thanks to a handy-dandy new gizmo that clamps tightly around a zombie’s neck, you too can have a maid, butler or whatever domestic servant your heart desires. (There’s even a neighbor played by Tim Blake Nelson who might be using his undead mistress for … other purposes. Ew!) So every house in Timmy’s little town has a neck-braced and sedately drooling zombie helper. Except for Timmy’s. And his mom really wants one bad. Eventually dad caves in, and in comes…

Fido, the most disgustingly good-natured zombie you ever will meet. (More disgusting than good-natured, but all things being relative, Fido’s a pretty cool zombie.) Keeping up with the Joneses has never been more macabre, basically. Dad’s not happy about the new addition, Mom’s pleased to have her new status symbol, and Timmy just wants someone to pal around with. Needless to say, things go terribly awry before too long, and it’s a pretty amusing ride all the way.

“Fido” just goes to show you what a strong script, a goofy concept, and a game cast can do for an indie flick. While it’s rarely a laugh-out-loud sort of comedy, the flick displays such a bizarre sense of dark humor — laced with some basic yet appealing social satire — that it’s tough not to watch the thing without a bemused grin. Familiar faces like Moss, Baker and Nelson add a lot to the proceedings. These actors don’t normally dabble in the semi-absurd stuff, and they’re clearly having some fun with Fido. As the titular zombie man, the nearly unrecognizable Billy Connolly is nothing short of a mega-hoot. What a weird bit of casting, and it works. And as a bonus: The main kid isn’t cloying or annoying like so many movie tykes, and that helps a whole hell of a lot.

Bottom line: “Fido” is pretty funny, surprisingly smart, pleasant to look at, and often quite sick. It’s a big goofy cocktail of a movie, and while these flicks don’t always pan out, it’s nice to make note when one does. If it doesn’t play in a theater nearby, definitely toss “Fido” into your Netflix bin.