The Last Man(s) on Earth debuted last year at the Austin Film Festival in Texas. Like Napolean Dynamite, this is an indepedently-made comedy, geared for mainstream audiences, that happens to have several Latter-day Saint actors. Thus, while it is by no means "Mormon Cinema," it is being featured at the 2013 LDS Film Festival. You can see it at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 26th at the Scera Xango Grand Theater, located at 745 South State Street in Orem, UT. You can buy tickets here. I'm going to try to be at the screening, so I hope to see you there!
THE LAST MAN(s) ON EARTH (GRADE: A-)
I see and review 4-6 movies a month for this site, and in the last year only one film made me laugh so hard that my sides hurt. The Last Man(s) on Earth is the funniest film I've seen in a long time; not bad for an independent action-comedy with no major stars and a modest budget. It started as a series of YouTube videos in which a pair of idiots give survival tips (though they're more concerned with zombie attacks, asteroid collisions, and saving the girl than actual catastrophes). The webisodes were amusing enough (some were much stronger than others) but the film takes the concept to a whole new gear. It's a riot for both fans and newcomers alike.
The Mine, One Man's Treasure) exudes the constant intensity of a fearless action hero, combined with willful ignorance of his own incompetence. It's a demanding comedic performance; his character's journey drives the story, and Prabhakar rises to the challenge. Those who've seen him in other films will note just how far against type he plays here. It's easily his best performance yet. (Read my interview with Charan here).
Darin Southam (who won the lead role in Ephraim's Rescue, coming soon from 17 Miracles director T.C. Christensen) is great fun to watch as he undergoes the metamorphosis from mild-mannered school teacher to a hybrid of romance novel heart-throb and long-lost member of the A-Team. He's a rising talent to keep your eyes on.
With all due respect to the rest of the cast, however, the greatest performance in the film belongs to Rick Macy (The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd). Audiences used to his more pious roles in religious films are in for a treat here, as he cuts loose with a combination of grandiose scenery-chewing and darkly hilarious dry wit. Macy seems to relish playing "The Oracle," a prophet of doom whose divinations of worldwide devastation are mixed with rampant egotism. Macy tackles the unabashedly silly script with zeal. He deservedly earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Filmed in Utah Awards for his work here (the bulk of the film was actually shot in California, but no matter). With limited screentime, Elizabeth Knowelden impresses as a scientist who just might hold the key to saving the world.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: The Last Man(s) on Earth has not yet been rated, but it would likely be PG-13. It has plenty of battles with zombies, a mildly suggestive scene (that actually, when you see it, goes for innocent laughs instead of naughty humor) and bloody moments that would be disturbing if they weren't so intentionally cheesy and funny (the comedic gore in Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a good reference point).
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Instead of wishing to be someone else, we should focus on the good we can do with our own talents and opportunities (Alma 29:1-3). The greatest love is to be willing to die for your friends (John 15:13). Not all who claim to be prophets are from God (Matthew 7:15-20).
Make sure to check out my book, 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families, in bookstores Fall of 2013.