Ah wish fulfillment, the easiest thing to really sell any narrative on. I mean we get a lot of that every now and again and only sometimes will we be reminded of the ones that permeate the pop culture know how of the modern day. Most times it boils down to having outsiders who becomes heroes and win the really hot girls in the end. People enjoy underdog stories or sometimes people enjoy seeing the average person win for a change instead of some macho man. I mean a lot of films thrive on that very notion and even some of the more notable television series do the same thing. It can be done well if there is meaning behind the wish fulfillment however, but most times that isn’t the case. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is one such movie that is unabashedly wish fulfillment that it is kind of hard to really recommend it to the average viewer or even zombie fan. Does that mean however it’s a terrible movie or purely just a forgettable one?
Just a warning that at one point in the look at this movie, I will be going over some of the more disgusting jokes which sound worse in words but look even worse when you see it executed.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is about a group of three friends in a Scout troop, each dealing with transitioning into junior year differently. There is Carter the immature and horny one of the group, Augie who has trouble letting go of the past and is the “geek” of the group that the others feel like they need to avoid to be cool, and you have Ben who is the loyal friend stuck in between whose only characteristics are his indecisive nature and that he is nice. These three are then thrown into a zombie apocalypse where they must survive and save others, because that is what a scout does! I mean it’s the classic zombie apocalypse scenario, where the only individualistic plot relevant aspect is the lives of these three kids trying to find out who they want to be. I mean that sounds interesting on a surface level, but as the movie drags on you begin to see its true colours. This is a gross out comedy…and one that revels in the gross out comedy (kind of like the stuff an immature kid would giggle at because its something they don’t normally see).
There is something there with the struggles of these three kids, yet most of that is shoved aside because one of them needs to save the day and win the girl. Who needs character development? We have to get these guys to the climax where they all win in the end and stay friends after the hard times they go through! Yay friendship! They do next to nothing with an interesting idea where even when they add on another group member, the cocktail waitress Denise, there is little to her besides being a good role model and strong female survivor. It is a bit depressing since there is talent and good characters there that can make for a horror comedy that has a nice message to it. Instead we will get a lot of lines that will make you sigh because it boils down to profanities that kids say because they think they will sound cool and sometimes they get too creative with it.
Let’s not forget the “physical comedy” of this movie. I mean one could write about the immaturity of these scenes as the lowest form of disgusting toilet humour but I think it best to give a few examples. One of the kids is falling out the window potentially into a den of zombies but hangs onto an old zombies Jefferson that stretches and eventually rips off. YES YOU SAW THAT CORRECTLY! The moment I had to put that in a review of a film, tells you that this comedy is beyond words and justification. How about having an old zombie “gumming” on one of the character’s butts. That merely is the tip of the iceberg of depravity these jokes have and I left out the most disgusting one so you are welcome. I didn’t think there was a moment the comedy could surpass recent Adam Sandler exploits but I would dare say it tried to prove me wrong.
It saddens me because you do have a somewhat heartfelt story of kid’s trying to figure out the best path in life. These three characters are eventually relegated to clichés and wish fulfillment once the zombie outbreak happens. Not to say that the action is not well shot or anything, as each of the characters is given moments to shine regarding their abilities as scouts. It is just nothing you are not going to see in a playthrough of Dead Rising, or watching better action oriented zombie movies. It is sad because as soon as they get the ball rolling in regards to progressing character they always fall back on the humour to lighten up the moment. Are we going to talk about how you guys were leaving your friend for a party because you wanted to be cool and he wasn’t? That seems too relevant, quickly switch Cloris Leachman as a zombie (oh Cloris why?) with some gross out humour! It becomes a pattern with this film, much like reusing David Koechner who honestly deserves better moments. I could say that most of this film comes down to an inability to use talent correctly with a script that revels too much in the inanity of its gross out humour and the power of outcasts looking cool killing zombies and winning the girl.
I keep on coming back to the gross out humour because that is the make it or break it element of this film. It’s not funny, it’s downright disturbing in moments, and while it does have some creativity that creativity is used on gross out humour! It takes a film that could be passable and instead makes it hard to recommend and most certainly holds it back from any sort of redeeming grade. It would be easy if it was just a few moments here and there but it is peppered throughout the brunt of this film. The opening sequence actually is the only part that I found myself somewhat smiling to, that while it did have stupid moments it was also clever in how it used the sequence of the zombie outbreak happening. I mean if the rest of the film retained that sense of humour this film would be far better off. I mean don’t we deserve better than the bottom of the barrel type of humour? I mean they have proved that they can be funny during this film and some situations could in fact cause a couple of chuckles but are sorely wasted.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is one of the only films in recent memory that had me walking away from the film for a little bit in order for me to be able to finish it. It’s by the numbers handling of things would be far easier to handle without the gross out humour, and if I have to hear that Carter character whine or act like a stereotypical horny millennial I will seriously need to rethink my life choices. I mean could you write a more unlikeable character? Besides the potential this film could have had to be poignant and fun, one should easily pass over this for far better horror comedies waiting around the corner.
I thought I was in for something possibly fun, and turns out I just can’t catch a break with zombie films lately. So for the next zombie film I watch I am going to go to the ones I know are good or at least I have on good word that they are the cream of the crop. I can’t keep testing my luck like this…its bad for my love of horror and comedy.
So have you watched Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse? Does gross out humour determine whether or not you even attempt a movie (for me most times it does)? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a great day! I need to now wash my brain with something better…