Arriving in perfect time for Halloween, Christopher Landon’s knowingly ridiculous horror comedy should play well to late-night crowds looking for a grotesque giggle. Part Superbad, part Shaun of the Dead, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is as much a teen comedy about acceptance and responsibility as it is about fending off undead hordes.
A major disappointment that just feels over worked, under developed and lazily handled by all concerned. While no one could accuse the original Anchorman of having a particularly strong script, it often feels like the sequel never had one to begin with. Not only does the film barely hang together as a series of largely unrelated skits, but even individual scenes themselves stop and start, clearly cobbled together from improvised one-liners as the cramped cast of screen comedians vie for the biggest laugh before its time for lunch. There are of course laughs to be had along the way, but the entire project just reeks of self-satisfaction, when in truth, what Ferrell and Co give us is embarrassingly sub-par to the point you can’t help but wish they hadn’t bothered.
One of the best examples of cinematic schadenfraude in recent memory, first-time director E.L. Katz takes two down on their luck losers and pits them against each other – for money, and the delight of a bored, affluent couple with nothing to do. It’s The Most Dangerous Game for the reality TV show generation, where sports and game shows simply aren’t enough to keep folks entertained anymore, and drugs and booze alone simply don’t have enough kick.
Pat Healy is on great form as the barely-likable heel who loses the shitty job that was never really gonna keep his young wife ad newborn baby adequately fed and housed. Wallowing in self pity he heads to a bar, where he runs into Ethan Embry’s old school pal, and they start a proper session. When they team up with a rich, bored and seemingly up-for-anything couple – David Koechner and Sara Paxton – they soon find themselves competing against each other for cash, with each new challenge more ridiculous than the last.
While it’s fair to say that there’s really only one direction this film can go in, Katz and Co draw huge pleasure, tension and thrills from dreaming up increasingly outlandish, grotesque and violent feats of self-harm and deprecation along the way, and Healy and Embry go at it with both barrels blazing. The result is a pitch black comedy thriller that is as disgusting as it is hilarious, and pretty much the perfect midnight movie to see with a drunk and rowdy crowd looking for a fun time.