June 19, 2015
Anton Yelchin as Max
Ashley Greene as Evelyn
Alexandra Daddario as Olivia
Oliver Cooper as Travis
Max (Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin) is a cute young horror nerd, with a dream job in a costume shop/horror geek paradise. But his ultimate goal is to one day own his own horror-themed costume/prop/memorabilia store, much to the dismay of his girlfriend, Evelyn (Ashley Greene). She’s an overbearing, fanatically eco-conscious, needy woman, and Max is on the verge of ending the relationship. Also in his life is his half-brother Travis (Oliver Cooper), a slobbish slacker and inexplicable ladies’ man.
One sunny southern California day, a package arrives at Max’s work, and inside is a never-explained “Genie-Devil” bobble-head, which supposedly grants wishes. While things are still okay between Max and Evelyn, they pledge eternal love and that they’ll always be together – right in the presence of the Genie-Devil. Oops.
Flash forward a bit and the couple have moved in together – into Max’s bachelor pad and it’s immediately apparent that this step was a mistake. Max decides to break it off, but not before Evelyn is fatally hit by a bus. After some time to mourn, he becomes involved with an ice cream entrepreneur named Olivia (San Andreas’ Alexandra Daddario). But — based on that pledge of eternal love in the presence of that wish-granting object, Evelyn isn’t ready to let Max go.
I’ll leave it to you to figure out where things go from there.
It’s part Big, part Death Becomes Her and it tries to take on the juggernaut of all Rom-Zom-Coms – Shaun of the Dead (the ending has more than a passing resemblance to the British hit). It doesn’t quite make it, but Burying the Ex is not without its charms.
The performances are all a lot of fun. Anton Yelchin is his usual adorable self. His Max is endearing and certainly someone you can root for. You want to see him succeed, both in his business-owning dreams and his new love story with Olivia – and then of course in his quest to permanently rid himself of his revived ex-girlfriend.
Alexandra Daddario as Max’s new love interest Olivia – also brings a kind of awkward cuteness to her role. Just like Max, Olivia’s coming off of a tough relationship (although no match for Max’s recent dating history), so they bond immediately over that, as well as their nerdly leanings. There’s a nice chemistry between Yelchin and Daddario – which is one of the highlights of the film.
And Ashley Greene as Evelyn, Max’s recently deceased and revived girlfriend, I found a little irritating. I understand that Evelyn’s raving bitchiness was the point, but it was more than just how the character was written. The performance was too over-the-top for me, even in a film like this. To Greene’s credit though, Evelyn’s final moments in the story were quite touching as she made her last, desperate pleas to Max.
The thing is, the story ends up exactly as you’d expect. It’s sweet, but nothing new. And whileBurying the Ex is enjoyable as you’re watching, this is not a picture which takes a coveted place in any all-time favorite list or even a film which will have you raving to your friends or work-related acquaintances. Which is a shame, because…
At the helm is legendary genre director Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling, Pirahna). Of course he knows his stuff. He’s been doing quality films for decades. And yes, the picture is sleek, fun and with a few bucks to back it up. Technically it all works. It looks good.
The shortcomings of the film do not lie at the feet of the great Dante. The problem is the script by Alan Trezza. While the film has a few good laughs and a compact and sweet little nerd love story, it’s just not ground-breaking (pardon the pun) or frankly — special.
As could be expected for a Dante film, screen legend Dick Miller (Gremlins, Explorers) makes an appearance as a grumpy policeman – not believing the tall tale brought to him by Max. He has but a few moments of screen time, but it’s always nice to see this great character actor still working.
I will however offer this: One of the film’s greatest achievements is in making this a true LA story. Lots of details will be lost on those unfamiliar with the City of Angels, but for locals, there are plenty of nice reminders and inside info about the fabulous city of Los Angeles. Heck, even the shots of the congested freeways make LA look interesting!
The zombie make-up is well done and zombie lovers will get a little bit of what they may want from a zombie pic. But it must be understood that this is a horror-romantic-comedy, with an emphasis on romantic-comedy. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t be looking for any scares, plentiful gore or suspense.
Burying the Ex opens in theatres on June 19th. It’s worth a watch, but I’d wait for it to hit VOD.