What’s not to love about squelchy monsters? This live-action, post-apocalyptic YA adventure, starring the adorable Dylan O’Brien, takes such a varied and visceral approach to its supposed bad guys that it’s hard not to grin every time the fantastic beasts (everyday creepy-crawlies magnified by radiation after an OTT missile strike) waddle gelatinously into frame. Director Michael Matthews has invented a new sub-genre: dank comedy.
Our hero, Joel (O’Brien), is cool, too, precisely because he’s not very cool. Just as Indiana Jones was honest about his fear of snakes, Joel is honest about his fear of… everything. From some angles, the character looks like Rob Lowe. From others, like a homely Lego figure.
Orphaned as a teen by the “monsterpocalypse”, Joel is the only singleton in his colony and spends most of the movie trying to reconnect with his high school sweetheart, Aimee (Jessica Henwick), who’s based in a colony 85 miles away. Joel is aided in his quest by a dog, played by an Australian Kelpie with a noble face and scene-stealing ears, and the supporting characters are good fun. Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt), a little girl Joel meets along the way, proves as smart and unpredictably feral as The Florida Project’s Moonee, and a talking robot, Mav1s, says such delightful things that you crave her company long after she’s gone.
On the journey, Joel constantly chats to Aimee (in his head). Having bumped into some giant leeches and been pumped full of hallucinogenic poison, Joel thinks the thought, “Dear Aimee, it’s not looking good and by ‘it’ I don’t remember what I was talking about.” Love and Monsters may not be that memorable, either. But it’s ginormously good fun.
109mins, cert PG-13. Netflix