Have you ever felt that a movie was behind of its time?
We always talk about movies that are ahead of their time. For example, New Nightmare is a very meta film that was just a hint of what Wes Craven would accomplish with Scream. At the time, it blew my mind that this man had found a way to pierce my reality by having a fictional creature torture real life humans (well, at least in name). Rosemary’s Baby issued in a slew of copycat evil cult films while Halloween opened the door to the unstoppable slasher film. The Blair Witch Project introduced the mainstream world to point of view horror.
And we could go on and on about films that paved the way. But there are a slew of films out there that just feel like they should have been made in a previous decade. Burying the Ex is one of these hapless movies. It’s humor seems dated and probably could have done better if it had a stronger cast. It tries to be a romantic comedy but (just as the comedy doesn’t really work) the romantic part doesn’t work (either). Worst of all, it’s just a bland film that tries to hide this in its quirkiness.
Max (Alton Yelchin) is a poor soul that is stuck in a relationship with the beautiful Evelyn (Ashley Greene). Apparently, it frustrates him that he can’t stand up to his boss for making him say stupid things to customers so he gets mad when Evelyn wants to build a life for the two of them. She is madly in love with him, and he thinks the sex is great. They don’t have much in common, and so Max contemplates breaking it off with her. As he is about to do this, she is killed. Max becomes forlorn but ends up meeting another beautiful woman (Olivia played by Alexandra Daddario). Unfortunately, Evelyn exits her grave as an undead zombie and returns to Max because he promised that they would be together forever.
It’s not a hard plot, and in fact, it sounds quite fun. It’s not. Max is character that is easy to hate. He is whiney and he abhors Evelyn. Despite the fact that Max hates Evelyn, we never really get a reason to hate her ourselves. Yeah, she can be clingy and she folds his memorabilia, but it never hits that a truly evil level. Max’s brother Travis (Oliver Cooper) is way more unbearable (but that may because I hated him ever since he showed up on Californication).
The script is flawed, but a good comedic team may have been able to pull off some of these jokes. Again, Travis is unbearable. Greene gives a performance worthy of the stinker The Apparition. Max is too bland to be funny and too mean to have sympathy for. Burying the Ex attempts to set up a nice romantic comedy with Olivia and Max but that is handled horribly as well. Despite her beauty, Olivia is an awful character that seems to exist for Max’s pleasure. She’s got her shit together too…which makes it even more concerning that she’s willing to put up with the shit Max is doing. Did I mention that Travis is unbearable?
But, despite all of this, the movie is watchable. Director Joe Dante knows his way around a camera. It’s polished, and practical effects take the front seat here. It’s touches like these that make Burying the Ex feel like it belongs in the 1980s. I wonder how long this script has been sitting around. It has a tone that is very similar Death Becomes Her and She-Devil (so I’ll date it to being penned to the early 90s). It’s not that good, but it’s not just that bad either. It’s a movie you can see yourself loving as a child because it was on HBO every day at 3.