Movie Review: “The Loneliest Boy in the World” makes friends with the Undead

What a sad and sappy seize-the-day satire “The Loneliest Boy in the World” turns out to be.

A candy-colored zombie comedy set in the bubble-gummy ’80s, it’s about a guy who grew up so sheltered he can’t connect to the real world. Friendless, he’s faced with the choice of living on in his late mother’s Bubblicious pink house, or being moved to an institution if he can’t make friends.

So he starts digging up fresh corpses from the local cemetery that can pose (literally) as “friends.” And guess what? They become the living dead!

Oliver, played as a lost, optimistic soul by Max Harwood (“Everybody’s Talking about Jamie”)) is being monitored by two shrinks — a cynic (Evan Ross of “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”) and his more sympathetic colleague (Ashley Benson of “Spring Break” ). They know his mother (Carole Anne Watts) died in a bizarre accident, and they’re sure she didn’t prepare him for living in this world.

If they knew he watched “Alf” religiously, showing up at her grave to relate each week’s plot to her, that wouldn’t help.

“Hah! WILLIE!”

The fact that he’s mercilessly bullied by the local jocks also seems like a barrier to independent living.

But while Oliver struggles to relate to cute stranger Chloe (Tallulah Haddon), the comical gravediggers tip him that there are fresh bodies aplenty, thanks to a nasty plane crash we’ve witnessed. Next thing we know, Oliver’s filled his house with “friends” who might be “the perfect family,” “just like on TV.”

Ben Miller and Susan Wokoma were older adult parental victims, obnoxious little English girl (Zenobia Williams) could be his sister. There’s even a Frankenweiner, “Ninja.” And Mitch (Hero Fiennes Tiffin, last seen in “The Woman King”)? He could be his “wingman” with Chloe.

If only they’d stop be corpses and start acting like a family! So they do.

The sight gags show off some pretty creative makeup, once we get past the scalding this corpse or posing that one bits. Living dead dining/drinking sight-gags, lost limbs and progressive decomposition can keep a family from being all it can be.

But as he continues to cope with bullies, shrinks and attempts at dating Chloe, they humanize and socialize the awkward lad living with the living dead, motoring around town in his late mom’s pretty-in-pink Chevy Blazer.

“I might be dead, but I’m not stupid” is the extent of the wit, here. As for profound life advice? Maybe Oliver needs to get on with his life, stop reciting “Alf” episodes to his mother’s pink tombstone.

“I can’t miss that show!”

“Sure you can.”

There simply isn’t enough to this beyond the ’80s nostalgia, which is as played out as zombies as a movie genre. We’ve had zombie invasions, zombie TV series, zombie war films, zombie romances (“Warm Bodies”) and zombie period pieces (“Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.” From the first, there’s always been some social commentary and satiric intent in the best of these films.

Not in “The Loneliest Boy in the World.” A charming-enough mostly-British cast riffing on ’80s TV (“Alf” was HUGE in Europe.) “families” adds nothing to the genre and hardly seems worth the effort to get everyone so beautifully made up.

Rating: R for language and violent content.

Cast: Max Harwood, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Ashley Benson, Tallulah Haddon, Carole Anne Watts, Evan Ross, Ben Miller and Susan Wokoma.

Credits: Directed by Martin Owen, scripted by Piers Ashworth. A Well Go USA release.

Running time: 1:30

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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