In a recent interview, Aubrey Plaza described Life After Beth as a “Zom Com Rom Dram.” I love Aubrey (yes, we are on a first name basis) dearly, but I believe that description is inaccurate. After viewing the film, and laughing my ass off from beginning to end, I would categorize Life After Beth as a straight comedy. A totally original one at that, but to call it anything else would just be setting people up for disappointment. Because this is definitely not a zombie movie – more a movie, with zombies. And the moments of drama and romance are used only to accentuate the points of comedy. Aside from the very beginning, there is never an actual sentimental moment or a point where we stop to appreciate the nuances of young love and loss.
I’m by no means saying this is a bad thing. What I’m trying to say is that calling Life After Beth a Zom Com Rom Dram, while it is quite fun to say out loud, is doing the film a disservice. It’s a comedy! A very good one, at that. The whole theater was roaring with laughter, and I enjoyed every minute of the film.
The story centers around Zach (Dane DeHaan), whose girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza) recently died from a snake bite. When Beth’s parents, played by the hilarious Molly Shannon and John C. Riley start ignoring Zach out of the blue, he stalks their house until he sees Beth walking around inside. Surprise! Beth has risen from the dead. Zach is happy to have a second chance with Beth, while being cautious and constantly asking her if she’s hungry – because he’s afraid she will start to want to eat his brains. As Beth’s state slowly deteriorates, Zach seems to be the only person who notices that more and more dead people have started to rise.
From Aubrey Plaza to the pleasant surprise appearance by Anna Kendrick to the even more pleasant surprise appearance by Jim O’Heir (Jerry/Gary/Larry on Parks and Rec), everyone in this film gave a superb comedic performance. But the real standout for me is Dane DeHaan, who I’ve always loved but I’ve never actually seen do comedy before. He legitimately did more with a blank stare in this film than I’ve seen a lot of comedians do with witty material. The comedy in this film just comes from the absolute absurdity of its premise and what is happening to this town, and Zach acts as the every man, who really sees everything that’s happening for just how absurd it is. It’s rather effective.
For me to go into further detail would ruin the jokes for you, and it would also take this movie too seriously. It’s not the kind of film that should be over-analyzed, just enjoyed. And that’s not to say it’s dumb, because the comedy itself is actually very clever, drawn from moments that should be horrifying or romantic. I really have no complaints. This is just 90 minutes of good fun. A great cast, a great script with an original premise, and a great execution. It’s funnier and smarter than most of the comedies you will see in theaters this year. I highly recommend this one.
Marla Pachter is a comedic writer, obsessed with all things television. She doesn’t discriminate against TV shows, which either results in pleasant surprise or an eviscerating review for your reading pleasure. Marla loves Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine Nine, and she will probably be watching new seasons of Grey’s Anatomy until she’s 90. Sometimes she writes TV shows herself, but they don’t air on television. She also likes big butts and she cannot lie. (That was a lie). @MarlaPachter