Life After Beth

  • Review Date: August 15, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Deadpan "romzomcom" likely to have cult appeal for teens.
  • Review Date: August 15, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

Age(i)

2
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4
5
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9
10
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character initially tries to hang onto a fantasy but eventually realizes that the truth must come out, no matter how painful.

Positive role models

The characters are mainly just ordinary young people in love, with a few strange problems. No one behaves particularly badly, nor do they behave in any extraordinary way; their behavior is mostly intended to illicit laughs.

Violence

Though the violence starts slowly, and most of the killings take place off screen, there's quite a bit of splattered blood on furniture, walls, and on characters' faces and clothes. Some charred bodies are found. A character cuts off her fingers to feed to a zombie, and spurting blood is shown. A man shoots an old lady in the head. Zombies are shot in the head. A zombie sets fire to a beach house. Lots of tense arguing and shouting.

Sex

When Beth comes back to life, she and Zach kiss and fondle each other (clothed) a lot. They're definitely thinking about sex and planning ways to get away so they can go at it. They manage to have sex on a playground (no nudity shown). In one scene, a naked female zombie is shown, with her naked breasts and a naked bottom on view for several seconds. The main character starts to rub a scarf that belonged to his dead girlfriend over his crotch area (clothed), but he's caught.

Language

"F--k" is heard several times, in several permutations. Also words like "c--k," "a--hole," "gay," "Jesus," "bitch," "s--t," "penis," and "douchebag."

Consumerism

Some Jell-O jokes early on, and Jell-O is shown. A character drives a SAAB, which is mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A man shares some pot with the main character, who's probably in his early 20s. The main character also smokes a cigarette.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Life After Beth is a zombie comedy with some romance thrown in (aka a "romzomcom"). Zombie killings mostly take place off screen, but there's lots of blood, as well as shooting, shouting, and arguing. Language is strong, with several uses of "f--k" as well as words like "c--k" and "a--hole." Characters kiss and fondle each other, with sex definitely on their minds. They do have sex in one scene, but no nudity is shown. A zombie girl is shown naked in one scene (breasts and butt). The main character smokes pot in one scene and a cigarette in another. Zombie fans will likely want to see this, as well as any big fans of stars Aubrey Plaza or Dane DeHaan.

Parents say

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Kids say

What's the story?

After going for a hike alone, Beth (Aubrey Plaza) dies of a snakebite. Her boyfriend, Zach (Dane DeHaan), is having a difficult time dealing with her loss and is spending extra time with her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon). One night he arrives to find that Beth is still alive ... sort of: She's a zombie. She seems normal enough, so they keep dating. But Beth soon starts acting strangely, growing more and more out of control. Worse, more zombies begin showing up. Zach has a choice. He can either continue to pretend like nothing is wrong, or he can start preparing for a zombie apocalypse.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The directorial debut of Jeff Baena, who co-wrote 2004's brilliant (albeit polarizing) I Heart Huckabees, LIFE AFTER BETH is a terrific modern-day take on the classic "Monkey's Paw" story. It depends a great deal on sly, sustained deadpan humor and weird comic detours. Some viewers may tire of repeated jokes -- like the fact that smooth jazz music tends to calm the zombies, or the full-sized oven strapped to a zombie's back during a long sequence. But these jokes are actually timed to escalate in funniness.

Baena's real achievement is balancing the humor with a truly heartfelt central story. DeHaan does a remarkable job of playing it straight during his genuinely painful romantic conundrum, while Plaza finds new angles to her usual wry comic persona. The two make a powerful connection. The great supporting cast is also used to wonderful effect. It's unlikely that Life After Beth will catch on with a wide audience, but a handful of dedicated cult fans will adore it.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Life After Beth's zombie violence. How much does it show and not show? How do these choices affect the tone of the movie? How did it make you feel? How would it have changed with more or less violence?

  • How does sex affect the story? Is it an extension of how the characters feel about each other, or is it more gratuitous?

  • Is the movie scary? How does it compare to other zombie movies you've seen? How does it compare to other zombie comedies you may have seen?

  • What's the appeal of zombie stories? What kinds of things or ideas do they represent in our culture?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 15, 2014
DVD release date:October 21, 2014
Cast:Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Dane DeHaan
Director:Jeff Baena
Studio:A24
Genre:Comedy
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:pervasive language, some horror violence, sexual content, nudity and brief drug use

This review of Life After Beth was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah September 19, 2014
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

The direction is off at times, but the actors are great.

Judging by the reviews, I was a bit sad because I was really looking forward to this. I absolutely love Aubrey Plaza and the rest of the cast is solid, so my interested was no fully deterred. And I'm happy that I went, because while it isn't like this is a great movie, it's fun and funny throughout. It's shaky at its start, but the script is serviceable and has some weird and funny ideas (like a neighborhood watch patrolman that's always looking for excuses to shoot people) and the cast elevates what doesn't completely work. Aubrey Plaza is, as always, terrific, and completely commits to the role, which really does help the film itself. The movie revels in its weirdness, almost becoming farcical at times, which is where the direction works. Combined with the actors - namely Dane DeHaan, who is actually very good at comedy - it has a nice energy about it. The direction doesn't always work, though; this is Jeff Baena's directorial debut and you can tell. It just feels off at times and there are some odd music and timing choices, but it's still entertaining and, again, the cast is very good. It isn't brilliant and it isn't like it's at the level of Shaun of the Dead (which it is fairly indebted to), but I chuckled a lot and laughed out loud a fair amount of times, and I cared about what happened. 7.1/10, good, one thumb up, above average, etc.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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