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Friday, July 6, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"Fido" is a dog of another kind

Seattle Times staff reporter

Movie review 1.5 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"Fido," with Carrie-Anne Moss, Henry Czerny, Dylan Baker, Billy Connolly, Tim Blake Nelson, K'Sun Ray. Directed by Andrew Currie from a screenplay by Robert Chomiak, Currie and Dennis Heaton.

91 minutes. Rated R for zombie-related violence.

Even as an insatiable zombiephile, I wanted to chew my own arm off well before the end credits for "Fido" rolled.

Andrew Currie's spoof is set in a fake-idyllic '50s à la "Pleasantville," where people drive big, shiny cars, women wear smart dresses and bring their husbands drinks, and the latest status symbols are zombie servants — domesticated with electric collars that keep them from eating their masters.

The premise is laid out in a pitch-perfect, black-and-white educational film: The Earth had passed through a mysterious cloud that reanimated the dead. Now, several years after the "Zombie War," cities are safely fenced off, and a huge corporation called ZomCon is generally running the show and has turned the rotters into productive members of society.

After the film, the students chant, "In the brain but not the chest, headshots are the very best."

Against the protests of a wimpy, unaffectionate dad (Dylan Baker), hot mom Carrie-Anne Moss ("The Matrix") brings one home, unable to stand the neighbors' derision. Their picked-on outcast son Timmy (K'Sun Ray) names the thing "Fido" (Billy Connolly, unrecognizable), and befriends it — awkwardly teaching Fido to play catch and scolding it for eating the mean neighbor lady when its collar goes on the fritz.

At the same time, Mr. Bottoms (Henry Czerny), the menacing bigwig of ZomCon, moves with his family into the house across the street — the effect being, as the filmmakers have put it, like Donald Rumsfeld becoming your new neighbor. And he's got his eye on Timmy and Fido.

"Fido" has a production design that would make Douglas Sirk envious, and an impressive cast, particularly Tim Blake Nelson as a lecherous neighbor who procured a much younger zombie girlfriend, and Connolly, who makes Fido more and more human with nothing more than grunts and looks.

But back to chewing off my arm: It's a one-gag movie that starts off clever and cute, but wears thin after half an hour, and ultimately is like an excruciating Enzyte commercial for an hour and a half.

If I were to make a rigor mortis crack here, it would be funnier than the ones in the film, which never really kill. Likewise, the social-political satire that George A. Romero made mandatory is never biting. It's as if "Saturday Night Live" stretched another one of its mildly funny recurring bits into a movie it couldn't sustain — mercifully without Rob Schneider.

Horror-comedy is tough to do well and often winds up anemic on one side or another. This one is on both. "Shaun of the Dead" (2004) set the femur high in that regard, and has become the rabidly loved cult flick that "Fido" won't.

Mark Rahner: 206-464-8259

or mrahner@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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