Fido (2006) 1 brain1 brain1 brainhalf brain

This movie was too quirky to make it into the mainstream, but it's well worth the watch for anyone looking for something different. I had vaguely heard of it while it was briefly in the theaters, but never got a chance to see it. Now I wish I'd seen it sooner. Fido humorously pokes fun at a wide range of targets, focusing mainly on the 1950s. The movie opens with a 1950s-style documentary talking about the recent great zombie war (reminding me a little of Max Brooks's book World War Z, but half a century earlier), and how a scientist discovered a way to domesticate and control the zombies, founding the company ZomCom. ZomCom is also responsible for maintaining the safety fences that protect towns from zombies roaming in the wild. There is an interesting duality to the zombies in this movie: wild zombies are feared, and children are taught from a young age how to survive a zombie attack. There are even special ZomCom funerals that can be arranged to make sure your loved ones don't come back. On the other hand, domesticated zombies are seen as status symbols. It's almost too easy for the movie to take potshots at materialism by showing people actually concerned that their neighbors have more hunks of rotting flesh than they do. Zombies are everything that their minimal motor skills allow: butlers, manual laborers, even concubines. Tim Blake Nelson turns in a great performance as a man with a young, pretty female zombie that he managed to acquire just after she died.

Fido (Billy Connolly, who shows his acting range in this movie by communicating a wide range of things without saying a word) starts out as an unnamed zombie who has just been acquired by Helen and Bill Robinson (Dylan Baker and Carrie-Anne Moss) and their son Timmy (K'Sun Ray). I already thought Carrie-Anne Moss was a good actress, but my opinion of her went even higher after watching this movie, since I actually watched this pretty, gentle 1950s housewife for several scenes before recognizing her as the same actress who played the prickly Trinity in the Matrix series.

The family has mixed reactions to the new zombie. Bill hates zombies, having had to kill his own father as a zombie when he was a young boy. Helen gets the zombie anyway, mainly because she discovers that the new neighbors have six, and she wants to catch up. As Fido sticks around, however, she comes to appreciate him for the person he is (no, really!), sometimes even comparing him favorably against her husband. Timmy is at first indifferent to the new zombie, but after the zombie protects him from some bullies, Timmy warms up to him and gives him his new name.

The movie isn't about fighting zombies, although there are some minor problems with outbreaks in the movie, quickly taken care of by ZomCom security. The movie's really more about poking fun at the society that these zombies are incorporated into, using a new, rotting bush to paint some familiar themes. The living people in the movie start out almost as caricatures, but as the movie goes on and we learn more about what makes them tick, they get more and more real, while Fido, starting out as an automaton, also starts to show more depth. The end result is interesting and funny.