Cooties: Children are Disease Factories – YouTube (w/ads) Review/Reader Request

A zombie virus starts tearing apart an elementary school.

Zombies have pretty much always been an ideal monster to work into comedies. On their own, they’re not particularly threatening, as they are usually slow, unintelligent, and, since they come in mobs, can be killed repeatedly on film without really diminishing the overall threat. Even the original modern zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead, had two different much more humorous sequels, Return of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Because of this, zombie comedies have been mined heavily over the years, but every so often, a new comedy uses the genre well and makes it hilarious again, ranging from Shaun of the Dead’s satire of modern life to Zombieland’s witty banter mixed with over-the-top zombie kills. Unfortunately, I think it’s the run of great Zombie comedy films that hurt this movie when it came out, because, while it is funny, it’s just not quite as good as some of its competitors. However, that doesn’t mean that you should overlook it, because it has a few elements that set it apart.

They still have the “people gearing up with nontraditional weapons” sequence.

Taking place in “Fort Chicken,” Illinois, a fourth-grade student eats a contaminated chicken nugget, and because, let’s be honest, that’s up there on the list of most likely causes of an outbreak, she soon starts to turn feral and develop skin lesions. This is our version of zombie for the film, and rather than Romero shamblers, they’re closer to small 28 Days Later running virus zombies, although at times they have better problem-solving skills. The first student scratches her substitute teacher, Clint (Elijah Wood), who will mostly be our protagonist throughout the film. He’s an aspiring horror writer who has had a crush on the same girl, Lucy McCormick (an underappreciated Alison Pill), since high school. Naturally, she’s dating the gym teacher, Wade, played amazingly well as a supermacho dork by Rainn Wilson. Other people at the school are played by Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, Peter Kwong, and Nasim Pedrad as the absolutely hilarious ultra-religious teacher. When all of the children start to become killing machines, it’s assumed that Clint is next… only for it to be revealed that the virus only works on children. The group hides with Calvin (Armani Jackson) and Tamra (Morgan Lily), the only two uninfected kids, and have to find a way to survive the school day. 

They’re screwed.

There are a lot of funny moments in this movie, like how one of the security officers, played by Jorge Garcia, is on shrooms and hallucinates a random giraffe, or how the doctor character seems incapable of remembering to use gloves. The overall premise, having children that are constantly attacking and murdering adults, largely because adults ignore them at first, is pretty great. They do a decent amount of sunshine horror (scenes in bright light) featuring a playground of tiny cannibals, but then also have the traditional low-light scenes in the school. Since most of the kids are around 7-10, they’re all tiny, which makes it kind of inherently hilarious that the adults are terrorized by them. It’s a decent idea.

Granted, a mob of goblins is still a threat for a reason.

There are two main problems with this film, though. The first is that they really don’t do much with the set-up during the second and third acts. Aside from the occasional sight-gag, they don’t treat the kid zombies much differently than regular zombies. It also doesn’t really play up a metaphor or anything the way that most zombie movies do, despite the fact that there a lot of prime opportunities. The second problem is that there is a lot of filler humor, where the jokes are there but they’re not blowing your socks off or really adding to the movie. Some of these work, but a lot of them just produce polite chuckles. Sometimes just focusing on the really good gags and playing the rest straight is the way to go. Granted, with so many talented people, even some of the gags that shouldn’t have worked did. 

Elijah Wood is always a plus to horror movies.

Overall, it’s still a pretty solid comedy, it just has the burden of competing against a really good subclass of film.

“I’m Sick” Mini-Review – Come to Daddy: A Strange Story of Father and Son

Elijah Wood plays a man who finally gets to meet the father who abandoned him. 

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Lite)

Norval Greenwood (Elijah Wood) is a musician who still lives with his wealthy mother. He receives a letter from his estranged father asking him to come for a visit. Norval arrives and is greeted by his father (Stephen McHattie), a gruff older man. While he starts off as warm, Norval’s father quickly breaks Norval’s phone and then begins verbally abusing him and even threatening physical violence. Norval is revealed to be fairly unaccomplished and mostly lives off of his mother’s wealth. When Norval has finally had enough and confronts his father, he’s attacked with a meat cleaver, before his father suddenly drops dead of a heart attack. Unable to have the body stored at the local coroner due to a shortage of space, Norval is forced to keep the embalmed corpse with him in the house. However, he soon discovers another man (Martin Donovan) tied up in the basement and a pair of men (Michael Smiley and Simon Chin) coming for the prisoner. It turns out Norval’s dad wasn’t exactly who he thought he was.

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Stephen McHattie basically is the epitome of “wears a Hawaiian shirt over a wifebeater” in this.


The opening to this film includes a pair of quotes from Shakespeare and Beyonce. That should tell you what kind of movie you’re in for. This film doesn’t take itself too seriously in a lot of ways, including having over-the-top violence and ridiculous characters, but it’s still got enough stakes to keep you invested and enough twists to keep you guessing. I imagine it is going to be extremely divisive, particularly because of the amount of gore in the second half, but if you’re willing to take it in stride, this film can work.

ComeToDaddy - 2Quotes
If this doesn’t make you chuckle a bit, then you won’t enjoy this film.

A big plus, naturally, is Elijah Wood’s performance. Playing a kind of douchey failure who is in rehab for alcoholism and lives with his mom doesn’t exactly seem like Wood’s wheelhouse, but he pulls it off really well. You can tell that he’s often full of sh*t, but you also realize that he knows it and that he’s doing it because he isn’t sure what he should do in his current situation. We spend essentially the entire movie with Norval, so it’s really essential that Wood’s performance keeps us invested, and it does. 

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Yes, he’s still good even with that mustache.

The dialogue in the movie is solid, containing some very odd, but definitely interesting conversations that would usually not make it to the film. For example, there’s a random line saying that people who are evil have “raisins for eyes,” and it’s just as weird in context. Similarly, the screenplay has a lot of elements in it that many movies would exclude, such as showing failed attempts to undo locked chains or the realistic complications to trying to ambush someone. The fights in the film, too, are more complicated and gritty than one would usually assume for this kind of story. 

ComeToDaddy - 4Red
The shots give you an idea of how nuts some parts are.

The best thing the movie has going for it is that it is basically watching a huge catastrophe unfold from smaller origins, like seeing a small crack in a dam lead to a flood. Much like Noval, we’re unable to really fully grasp all of what’s happening because it just keeps coming at us faster and faster until we’re overwhelmed.  

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I’m not saying it’s a must-see, but if you like Elijah Wood as an actor, maybe put it somewhere on your wish-list. 

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