LIFE AFTER BETH (Jeff Baena). See listing. Rating: NN
Life After Beth has a fantastic cast and a really good premise. That it fails to do much with either is so damn disappointing.
I Heart Huckabees co-writer Jeff Baena's directorial debut starts off as a dry comedy about morose young Zach (Dane DeHaan), who's been blindsided by the recent death of his beloved Beth (Aubrey Plaza). Except Beth isn't dead exactly; she's inexplicably returned home to her parents (John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon), who don't understand the circumstances of her resurrection but are happy to have her back.
Zach's happy, too, though he worries about Beth's new unpredictable mood swings and explosive temper. Those of us who've seen Return Of The Living Dead 3 and Zombie Honeymoon will be ahead of the plot, which wouldn't be a problem if Life After Beth went somewhere different - or anywhere at all.
Instead, Baena just keeps humping his premise - it's hard to miss someone when they won't go away - long after it runs out of steam, and he doesn't have the budget to it play out on the scale that it needs.
DeHaan and Plaza give it their best shot, and Anna Kendrick and Matthew Gray Gubler pop up in small parts that suggest much more intriguing possibilities, but this is a dead movie walking.
Opens Friday (September 5) at the Royal. See listings.