SXSW Film Review – Little Monsters
Lupita Nyong’o had two films at SXSW that involved her being covered in blood. One was Us and the other was Little Monsters, which is the most atypical film that one would ever expect Lupita to star in, let alone be the heroine of the story.
Little Monsters is set in Sydney, Australia and follows immature Dave (Alexander England) as he navigates a world in which he no longer has his band or his girlfriend (Nadia Townsend). He relies on his sister Tess (Kat Stewart) for a place to crash and attempt to get his life back together and is failing miserably at it. Tess is a single mom to a precocious son named Felix (Diesel La Torraca) who has a myriad number of allergies. As soon as Dave moves in, he begins doing just about everything wrong with Felix, even outfitting him in a Darth Vader costume to win back his ex-girlfriend. Things start to turn around when meeting Felix’s school teacher Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o). Smitten with Miss Caroline, Dave agrees to chaperone Felix’s class trip to the local petting zoo. Things go awry very slowly as a zombie outbreak escapes from 0the Army research station next door to the zoo.
Little Monsters has given Lupita a chance to break from dramatic roles. She is not the stereotypical actress for the role of Miss Caroline, and whoever decided to suggest Lupita for it may have thought they would not receive a positive response from her. Thankfully she did as Lupita radiates kindness and pure-heartedness throughout the film until she is forced to go against some zombies to protect her students. She also plays the ukulele and uses songs as a distraction for all those involved, even the “adults,” and the song played is often Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” One of the comical facts learned about Miss Caroline’s background is that she is American and got stranded in Australia following Hanson (yes, that Hanson) around. While Miss Caroline may come off as naïve initially, she is revealed to be anything but that, stronger than the other two adults trying to outrun the zombies.
Another actor breaking away from his Disney roles is Josh Gad. He plays a children’s television show host named Teddy McGiggle. Coincidentally, he also ends up at the petting zoo with his puppet sidekick much to the delight of the children. Unfortunately, once the zombies arrive, he turns into a profanity-laced terrible excuse for a human aka a douchebag. He barricades himself in the giftshop, not allowing Miss Caroline, Dave, or the children to enter. Ingenuity and desperation finally win their entry into the shop where they camp out for the majority of the film, creating a group of immature humans and Miss Caroline. Gad came off as reveling in the antithesis of other roles he has played. It is quite a transformation and gives Gad plenty of room to stretch his comedic muscles in some of the foulest ways possible.
First and foremost, Little Monsters is a comedy, and, unfortunately, the storyline is a bit dumb. Regardless of how childish and stupid the story comes off as, the film exudes many laughs from its audience, including quite a few from myself. It may not be the greatest film, but it does indeed live up to being a comedy, more so than any I have seen this year.
Little Monsters is inspired by director and screenwriter Abe Forsythe’s son, who also has medical issues of his own. Forsythe had to entrust his care to his teachers, and thus this story is borne out of his stress, nervousness, but also as a love letter of sorts to those teachers, capable of disengaging any kind of emergency. The film has achieved the hilarity and outlandish story that Forsythe imagined, and it is a boon to his idea and script that Josh Gad and Lupita Nyong’o joined the cast. Little Monsters is a fun and hilarious and if you ever wished to see a zombie eating an echidna, this film is a dream come true.