21 Apr 2021

Review: Love and Monsters

From At The Movies, 7:33 pm on 21 April 2021

It was one of the most clichéd movie plots – even before it happened to us in real life – the dystopian future, most of humanity is destroyed.   The remaining survivors have to then cope with zombies or aliens or monsters of some sort.

The trick is to come up with a twist.  And I’m not sure if Netflix romantic comedy Love and Monsters hasn’t done just that.

Our hero Joel is seen cutely sketching his high-school sweetheart Aimee’s picture at the very moment when all hell breaks loose.

Love and Monsters.

Love and Monsters. Photo: Screengrab

A disaster occurs, destroying 95 percent of the population, but rendering the world’s creepy-crawlies - lizards, frogs, insects and worms – into monstrous killers.

Joel and Aimee are separated, they drive off in opposite directions, lose their families and, seven years later, Joel finds himself in a colony of, luckily, rather more capable people than him. 

Since he’s a liability when it comes to monster-hunting, he spends time on the radio looking for Aimee.

Joel decides to take off from the colony, despite being worse than useless in the survival department.  For instance, he tends to freeze when he should be firing bullets or arrows at outsize toads, bugs or crabs.

But since he’s clearly determined, his friends shrug and give him the best advice they can.  Don’t try and be a hero, obviously.

Off goes Joel, while gigantic beasts circle round him. And we can’t help noticing that, while these creatures are undoubtedly hideous looking, they often seem pretty easy to take out. So long as you don’t freeze. 

On the way, Joel meets a friendly red dog called Boy.

That red dog looks remarkably Australian, I have to say. The fact that so many Australian and New Zealand actors pop up in supporting roles suggests that Love and Monsters was presumably filmed in Aussie. 

Star Dylan O’Brien is American though, as are most of the people he meets along the way.  Not the gigantic mutant frog, obviously.

Clyde –  played by the always welcome Michael Rooker, is another hard-boiled loner – while Minnow is played by the equally tough cookie, pint-sized Ariana Greenblatt.

Ariana is hilarious, strongly reminding me of a young Chloe Grace Moretz in her Hit Girl days.

Joel, Boy the Australian dog, Clyde and Minnow join forces as they travel over treacherous terrain. 

And Joel learns how to survive, under attack from giant pink snails, sand-gogglers, enormous centipedes and whatever else the Oscar-nominated effects team can dream up.

Love and Monsters is another film that went straight to Netflix, and I’m not sure watching it at home does it any favours. 

Like its most obvious predecessor, Zombieland, it’s far better suited to a large, undemanding audience, all having the same good time.

And like Zombieland, it takes off in a few different directions from the obvious monster-hunting one. Love and Monsters may be big and messy, but it’s also uncynical and eager to please. If you liked films like Shaun of the Dead or Jumanji - as they say on Netflix - you’ll probably have an equally good time with this.

On the other hand, if you were expecting anything more from a film called Love and Monsters, I have to ask, are you familiar with the term “fool’s errand”?

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