LITTLE MONSTERS, not to be confused with the movie that starred Fred Savage when he was still little Kevin Arnold, is another zombie comedy film that was released on Hulu last weekend after getting decent reviews from Sundance and SXSW festivals earlier this year. It stars the great Lupita Nyong’o and Josh Gad and it is about a teacher that has to guide her class of small children through a zombie outbreak in the middle of a field trip. Basically, with the crude, rude, and crass tone, in a school like field trip setting, imagine if Billy Madison was in Zombieland, and that’s exactly the kind of movie you get. For me, it worked. While some may find the mean humor a little too mean, it is another refreshing take on the zombie tale, and makes for a good double feature if you went and saw Zombieland 2 in the theater before or after watching this in the comfort of your own home. It’s especially refreshing when you happen to still watch The Walking Dead; the past 3 episodes of that dower and grim show in its tiring 10th season has mostly been DOA, not fun at all, and almost a complete snooze fest. This will wake you right the fuck up.
I went into this film almost completely dark. I had not seen any trailers or tv spots, just a couple of still images and a couple of reviews that said while it was juvenile, it was still funny and refreshing. And knowing how I’m basically still juvenile at 33, I knew I was probably going to be okay with it. And when you add all that up, and add in the fact that my wife, who hates zombie/scary movies/what have you, actually sat down with me and paid attention the whole movie and now recommends it to people, you know you have something decent on your hands. So going into it dark, I was kind of dumb struck when the movie started with this random couple, showing their relationship (mostly fights), and then a break up. No Lupita Nyong’o in sight, quick cameo by Josh Gad on a television. I was thinking to myself, “well, maybe they are the start of some zombie outbreak or something.” Nope, in fact, the movie subverted my expectations with this juvenile man baby male being actually a main character and the catalyst of a “growing up” kind of tale. His story eventually intersects with Lupita’s and it does so absolutely beautifully. I was afraid that even though her name is listed first that it would be a Bruce Willis in a straight to video on demand kind of thing, top billing, but maybe only 15 minutes in the film.
But no, once Lupita joins the fray, she is in the movie 100%, her and the grown man baby’s adventure turns into a multi-dimensional arc in what could’ve easily been something generic (such as the plot just be that the grown man baby child wants only to just fuck Maz Kanata). And Josh Gad is in the film much more than I thought he would be as well, considering he is the “and” in the credits. I don’t want to spoil much about his character, but Gad is absolutely hilarious in this, using that fake annoying charm that he brings to other films so well, but then completely flipping it on its head. You’ll see. Out of Lupita Nyong’os classroom of children, they really only focus on one boy, who happens to be the grown man baby’s nephew. If I had any complaints about the film, is that while you want to see the other tiny little children of the classroom survive the zombie ordeal, the rest of their personalities don’t stick out so much, and are kind of degraded into being one dimensional stereotypes. I’m not expecting the Citizen Kane of character development to side kid characters in an hour and 34 minutes zombie film, but it would’ve been nice to have just a little more interactions with some of the kids, instead of it just being a couple of kids think the main boy is weird, but then end up respecting him in the end.
Also, for a zombie movie, you might have to suspend your belief a little bit. While I appreciated that it was only a zombie outbreak and they weren’t in the middle of a nation wide apocalypse, it was kind of weird to see that their field trip to this fun little lamb farm happened to be right next to a military experimental facility. But then again, maybe that was the joke? If that was an intentional joke (I’d have to ask the screenwriter), then it was quite brilliant. Otherwise, it just seems like plot convenience for point A to makes sense getting to point B in a hurry. The violence is a little less what you’d expect from a zombie movie, with some good gore and kills here and there, but then it also pulls back its punches on several good killing money shots, but I expect that it is due to the small budget this thing had, which is of course forgettable. I think this had a budget similar to Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, and this thing looks and is shot, so so so so so so much better than that film was.
This is definitely an entertaining ride on Hulu you don’t want to miss. Especially if you like these kinds of movies and/or are a zombie afficionado. If you don’t have Hulu, maybe find a friend that can loan you their username or password (don’t ask me though) so you would be able to check it out. It’s definitely much better than I thought it was gonna be, as I wasn’t looking at my laptop or phone during any parts of the movie. I am not familiar with the writer/director Abe Forsythe, or any of his previous work, but if his name is attached to a project in the future, I might be actively checking it out from now on. This movie ultimately proves though that Lupita Nyong’o deserved that Oscar she got for 12 Years A Slave several years ago for that very short screen time she was in. I thought it might’ve been a fluke, but her parts in this, Black Panther, Star Wars and especially Us, have proved me wrong. And I’m glad she did. Very good little film.