Saturday, November 7, 2015

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  I'm actually surprised we haven't had a scouts vs. zombies movie yet.  If anyone will survive the zombie apocalypse it's those nerds.  Sorry scouts. Please save me when the zombies come.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – 4 out of 5

The bright side of having a girlfriend who is obsessed with horror films and zombies means that when films like Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse become a must-see.  Additionally, having your anniversary on Halloween means that part of the celebration of your time together is going to a haunted house and treating yourself to whatever horror movie is currently at the local cinema.  Originally, we were going to see Goosebumps because I thought the film looked fun and I love Jack Black but no sooner than when we made our plans, she saw a trailer for this film.  Well, my love for Jack Black is quickly trumped by the love for my girlfriend and we ended up seeing a little zombie comedy.  My expectations weren’t high but I was completely surprised by this one.

                                                                          Broken Road Productions/Paramount Pictures
Surprised like a shotgun blast to the face.

Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller) and Augie (Joey Morgan) are lifelong friends and all members of the scouts.  Sadly, Ben and Carter are growing out of their love for the scouts and want out because of the impact it has on their social lives; however, Augie is still all-in and is even going to get a major badge during a camping trip and looks to one day be like just like their scout leader (David Koechner).  Ben and Carter plan to sneak out at night and hit a party where Carter’s sister and Ben’s love interest (Halston Sage) is attending.  However, the friends soon realize that while they were in the woods, a zombie outbreak hit the city and the undead are shuffling around to eat human flesh.  Using all their scouts skills and with the help of a strip club cocktail waitress named Denise (Sarah Dumont), the boys plan on saving the day and kicking some undead ass.

                                                                         Broken Road Productions/Paramount Pictures
Their extensive knowledge of knots shall save the day!

Going into the film, a part of me thought this film was going to be a cheap zombie film that was all fluff and no substance.  I imagined weak gore effects, bad makeup, barely passable acting and a story that had no real depth to them and was littered with characters that were one-dimensional and were most likely around for no other reason than to be a tally in the body count.  I was 100% wrong on every single account.  Instead, this movie is a blast of a dark comedy that is filled with great acting, fun characters and unrelenting laughs.

                                                                         Broken Road Productions/Paramount Pictures
Damn, all those old folks who claim kids are shitty because of their phones
and their love of selfies are right!  Wait, the kid isn't the zombie here...
Hmmm...Selfies save lives kids.

Right off the bat, the feature starts with a killer way to establish the outbreak and it does so with an extremely hilarious sequence that pretty much sets the bar for the comedy you’ll get for the rest of the movie.  Workaholics’ Blake Anderson comes into play here as a janitor at a biological research facility and he ends up, through some comedic shenanigans, causing a zombie to get loose.  After this moment, the film pretty much never lets up on the quality gags and it makes for a film that is unrelentingly funny.  Granted, there were times when some of the jokes were a little too juvenile as they went the gross-out route and even threw in some sophomoric dick jokes (or, in this case, zombie dick).  Occasionally, these scenes feel overly familiar and, often, seem like they were lifted from other zombie films but adjusted a bit by adding in some juvenile humor but even when they went with this formula it was still funny and far better than what you usually see when comedy goes this way.

                                                                         Broken Road Productions/Paramount Pictures
I'm sure he's alright.

As far as the acting department this film is no slouch.  In past reviews for Mud and Joe, I sang the praises of one Tye Sheridan and he brings a new angle to his acting ability with this one as he has to juggle being a tad comedic as well as being the more serious character because he’s the one who gets the girl (shut up, that’s not a spoiler.  You pretty much know it from the get go because it’s just basic and common story telling.)  Logan Miller does a tremendous job at being the over-stimulated, sex-driven perv-ball of a character but does it to the point he’s funny and likable and never gets to be annoying—a real risk with this type of character.  Joey Morgan is just charming as hell as Augie and really just comes off as a likable character that I found myself quickly investing in and cheering for.  Additional, the rest of the cast really nails their parts and their portion of the production to create a film that is extremely well balanced in not just the acting department but also in the character wing thanks to great writing.  Finally, the three main boys all have a really pronounce and definite chemistry and it makes for their conflict about the scouts and how it is ingrained in their friendship believable and really created the right amount of drama that mixed perfectly with all the laughs.

                                                                          Broken Road Productions/Paramount Pictures
Jesus, that's some badasses right there.

My complaints for the film are very minor and didn’t really hurt my score or my experience.  There is a few times where the editing got choppy and I wasn’t that wowed by the performance of Sarah Dumont but, aside from this, the film is beyond solid.  I already mentioned how funny the film is (there’s a great running gag with David Koechner’s character) but the film also uses music very effectively to create slick and hip sequences and the film actually brings in some killer action sequences that really paints the boys as some Boy Scout badasses!  However, there is one thing about the film—that’s not necessarily a complaint—that bothered me.

                                                                          Broken Road Productions/Paramount Pictures
And that one thing is that hair piece.  Wait, no it isn't.  Ah, just read the next

SGttZA really showed me how spoiled I’ve become thanks to The Walking Dead.  I’ve been a fan of zombies since I was barely a tween thanks to my father showing me Night of the Living Dead but it was The Walking Dead and Greg Nicotero’s way of how zombies behave that really made me obsessed on a new level with the undead.  Due to this man’s attention and the show’s detail, they’ve set the bar on how zombies should act and when I go back and watch old films and productions that aren’t TWD, I have a hard time watching the extras essentially flopping around with seemingly no direction or consideration of how a creature that is, for all intents and purposes, a walking corpse supposed to act.  I’m not saying that the zombies in SGttZA are bad but they’re nowhere near the level of attempted realism that I am now used to.  Hell, now six seasons into The Walking Dead has made it hard for me to accept the lumbering, cheap Frankenstein monster gaits of the zombies in Romero’s zombie films.  So, saying that the zombies move and act poorly isn’t really a commentary on the cast or the production but rather a comment on my own artificial standards that have been crafted by one of my favorite shows.  So, if any zombies from this film are reading this (you’re probably not), you did your job fine (especially for a dark comedy), I’ve just had the zombies in The Walking Dead become my default setting for the undead.

                                                                         Broken Road Productions/Paramount Pictures
Then again, The Walking Dead doesn't have zombie cats...

I may have walked in a little skeptical with Scouts Guide tothe Zombie Apocalypse but I walked out still chuckling to myself over what I saw.  To say it was better than what I was expecting is putting it lightly because too many zombie films are cheap and are often thrown together with little regard for quality.  Since the genre of zombie fic is so popular right now, we are bombarded with hundreds of films, comics, books and puppet shows (I’m guessing, I don’t see many zombie puppet shows) attempting to cash in on the craze.  This film could have easily been one of those disasters but it was far more entertaining than that and, instead, was crafted with great gags and played out with a fantastic cast!

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