Thursday, September 11, 2014
Life After Beth 
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RE.com (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (M. D'Angelo) review
Life After Beth  (written and directed by Jeff Baena) is IMHO a fun and amusingly subversive "small indie piece" about early 20-something Beth Slocum (played by Aubrey Plaza) who dies, hiking, in the first 30 seconds of the film (of a snake bite) and then about her boyfriend Zach (played by Dane DeHaan) and their two sets of parents, hers (played by John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon), his (played by Paul Reiser and Cheryl Hines) trying to get over (and trying to help Zach get over) her loss.
First, it needs to be realized that both Beth and Zach were "quite young" and truth be told already "not all that much into each other" when she ... died. Indeed, one got the sense that they probably would have definitively broken-up shortly afterward, if she had not, well, again ... so suddenly died.
But die, she did. And so Zach, as well as obviously her parents, was/were crushed. So ... to "cope," Zach starts hanging-out, perhaps even more so than before, at Beth's house (with Beth's parents...) while they themselves are trying to deal with her sudden loss. All this drives Zach's older and far more straightforward brother Kyle (played by Matthew Gray Gubler), who works as a neighborhood watch / security guard, nuts. Watching Zach mope around about the loss of a girlfriend that he presumably had already (if not in death) lost anyway, Kyle just shakes his head and calls Zach what every older brother in America would call his younger brother acting in a similar way: "a p..." ;-).
Okay, Zach's kinda a loser ... but perhaps a sincere one.
Well, one afternoon, he comes over to mope around at Beth's parents' house again, when he spots through the window ... Beth. But wait, wasn't she DEAD? He knocks on the door, then POUNDS on the door. No answer. Security guard Kyle comes around. He asks Kyle, his brother, to do something. Kyle, complicatedly explains that though he is a security guard, since HE IS A SECURITY GUARD he CAN'T JUST BREAK DOWN THE DOOR OF A HOUSE IN A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT HE'S SUPPOSED TO BE PROTECTING ;-) ... and tells Kyle that he's going to have to "be patient" and come back when Beth's parents come back (or feel ready) to open the door.
Angry, anxious, Zach finally gives up and goes home to come back later in the evening to Beth's parents' house to ask WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON.
Initially, Beth's parents deny everything ... but eventually they cave and say that "Beth's come back." "BUT HOW, ISN'T SHE DEAD???" "Yes, she was dead," Beth's mother answers, but one day "earlier in the week she came back." "HOW?" "Well, it's as if she was raised from the dead" "Like JESUS??" (part of the schtick in this movie is BOTH FAMILIES ARE VERY JEWISH") "Maybe."
But Beth's dad already suspects that Beth probably didn't come back "like Jesus." HOW she came back, he didn't know, but (1) probably NOT _that_ way, and (2) "who cares HOW she came back (as a vampire, or a zombie, or whatever else ...) she's MY DAUGHTER and SHE CAME BACK" and so HE becomes a WILDLY "over-protective" father for the rest of the film ;-).
The rest of the film follows, and truth be told, I really enjoyed it.
Yes, it's kinda subversive ... Could one possibly think of "The Risen Jesus" as "a zombie"? The film DID raise that question up for me ... Though OBVIOUSLY JESUS WAS NOT THAT as JESUS' BODY AS DESCRIBED IN THE BIBLE WAS NOT FALLING APART AS A RESULT OF HIS RESURRECTION BUT WAS ARGUABLY _BETTER_ / MORE CAPABLE (capable of passing through walls, etc) THAN BEFORE.
Still, I really enjoyed this film and yes, teens / young adults "break-ups" are hard ... but LIKE (MOURNING) THE DEAD ... one must eventually move on ;-)
Great / amusing young adult film ;-)
One last note, parents, the R is appropriate for both language and the 20-something nature of the film. Yes, Zach tries to have ... at one point with his once dead now, kinda back to life, girlfriend... Anyway, the R is deserved, but the film remains IMHO surprisingly "fresh" and funny ;-)
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