Review: Life after Beth (Baena, 2014) – Sundance 2014

Courtesy of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival website

Courtesy of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival website

Like the other Aubrey Plaza movie we saw at Sundance, Safety Not Guaranteed, this film was funny and entertaining but nothing more. I’m not sure why it needed to be at Sundance because it reeks of mainstream Hollywood, from the zombie trope to the manicured suburban Los Angeles backdrop to the megawatt (at least in the comedy world) cast, including John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, in addition to the aforementioned Aubrey Plaza. That said, it was a welcome light-hearted break among the typically more serious film festival fare.

I am not against comedy-horror films (has someone coined a cute term for this category yet?–a brief search on the internet yielded nothing but this clumsy hyphenation), though it isn’t my genre of choice. Maybe I’m still searching for something that will match Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, from our inaugural Sundance festival in 2010. Combining ironic horror/thriller elements with slapstick comedy and mild social commentary, Tucker & Dale, in hindsight, is one of my favorite Sundance movies of all time. Alas, Life after Beth was not to fit the bill.

Note: One of the magical aspects of Sundance to me is the feeling it gives me that no one is special. It’s the reason I don’t go trying to get my picture taken with the movie stars: I buy into the illusion that we’re all part of the same group, and I dare not puncture that fantasy by doing something so tawdry as asking for an autograph. That idea came home to me even more as I stood in the airport security line beside Aubrey Plaza, Matthew Gray Gubler (from Criminal Minds), Cheryl Hines, and Molly Shannon. I texted my entertainment junkie friend, who then asked me if I’d sneaked a picture. Please.

Acquired by A24 Films.

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