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Fido

Lionsgate
Movie C+
Special Features C
DVD Geek Factor 4 (out of 10)

While I appreciate the offbeat nature of this film, my final impression is that the director messes up the tone, torpedoing a good idea. It's a zombie film set in the '50s, where a zombie war has left cities fenced in with zombies as pets. Its attempts at humor are sabotaged by a distracting soundtrack and a script that doesn't supply enough zingers.

Carrie-Anne Moss and Dylan Baker play the smiling parents of Timmy (K'Sun Ray), a troubled kid who is picked on by bullies and questions the treatment of the undead. Collar-wearing zombies perform domestic duties like mowing the lawn and preparing dinner. Timmy is sympathetic to their plight, and he worries about the already buried dead people trying to claw out of their coffins 6 feet under.

An evil corporation named Zom Com has perfected the zombie collar and basically taken over the world with its fear campaign. When Mom brings home a zombie (Billy Connolly), Timmy names it Fido and walks him like a dog, much to the chagrin of next-door neighbor and Zom Com exec Mr. Bottoms (Henry Czerny). When Fido accidentally eats a neighbor, Timmy's loyalty to his new pet--and the safety of his city--are in jeopardy.

Director Andrew Currie is obviously going for a Lassie vibe. There's even a moment when Timmy is in peril, and Fido must go fetch Mom. It's a clever idea, but the soundtrack, in direct contrast to the visuals and performances, is sort of dreary. This results in a confused feel, and the movie never really gets to hit its stride.

That's too bad, because better pacing would've helped the performances of Baker and Moss, who wind up looking a little lost. The usually obnoxious Connolly never says a word and delivers an interesting physical performance. Czerny gets a few laughs as the bad guy, but his role is small.

Tim Blake Nelson is potentially funny as a neighbor who keeps a zombie as a girlfriend, but the film never explores the comic potential of that plot point. In the end, the movie just isn't that funny or scary, two things required for a zombie comedy. The movie is bright and colorful to the eyes, but a true drag on the ears.

Special Features: The Making of Fido is short and uninteresting, while the director's commentary is drab. Deleted scenes are also uninteresting.


The Sarah Silverman Program: Season One

Paramount Home Video
Show A-
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

God bless Sarah Silverman's demented, deranged and unbelievably evil heart. Her brutal brand of comedy got her into a little trouble on MTV recently, causing an audience to cringe as she crucified Britney Spears--but, hey, the lady was calling it like she sees it.

This show has plenty in common with her live comedy film Jesus Is Magic, which incorporated some fun musical sequences with jokes. The format has Sarah going through life experiences with her sister (Laura, her real sister), two gay friends (Brian Posehn and Steve Agee) and a cop (the great Jay Johnston). Episode plots include Sarah's tripping on cough medicine, her troublesome obsession with childhood beauty pageants and her flirtations with a lesbian. Occasionally, she sings, but that seems to happen less as the season goes on. It's all very funny if you can accept the fact that it's truly rude.

The second season is currently airing on Comedy Central, and it is off to a great start. No sophomore slump for Sarah! Also, you've got to love the dog.

Special Features: Some commentaries and a couple of storyboards. Nothing much.


Ratatouille

Disney
Movie A
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Brad Bird, creator of The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, keeps the hits coming with this fun tale of a wily rat with a sensitive palate and a talent for cooking. Remy the Rat (voice of Patton Oswalt) gets separated from his family in France, finds his way to a fancy restaurant and helps a hapless apprentice become the great chef of Paris.

The film looks terrific and is a little odd at times. Ian Holm is fantastic as the voice of Skinner, a diabolical chef looking to turn the restaurant into a frozen-food juggernaut. As with most Pixar films, the movie looks astonishing on DVD, better than in theaters. It is also intelligent enough to thoroughly entertain adults while perhaps teaching youngsters something.

I love this movie, and it's a great primer for your Disneyland trip. I'm going next week! Wahoo!

Special Features: Deleted scenes that are more sketches than completed works (which are more fun to watch, in a way) and a couple of cool shorts. Lifted is the funny failed alien-abduction film that played with the feature, and Your Friend the Rat is a new film with Remy and Emile (voice of Peter Sohn). The latter film is a demented history of human-and-rat interaction that provides a few good laughs.

More by Bob Grimm

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