[Screen It]


(2015) (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller) (R)

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Horror Comedy: Three teenage Boy Scouts are the last line of defense when their small town gets overrun with zombies.
Ben (TYE SHERIDAN), Carter (LOGAN MILLER), and Augie (JOEY MORGAN) have been friends since they were six years old. They've also been Boy Scouts since they were that age under the leadership of Scout Leader Rogers (DAVID KOECHNER). Unfortunately, now they are sophomores in high school, and Ben and Carter have outgrown the Scouts. Augie hasn't, though. He lost his dad a few years earlier, and being a Boy Scout is his last link to his father. So, Ben and Carter continue to put on the uniform, collect merit badges, and draw the ridicule of their classmates.

One night while camping in the woods, Carter convinces Ben to sneak away while Augie is sleeping and go find a secret seniors party attended by Carter's older sister, Kendall (HALSTON SAGE); her boyfriend, Jeff (PATRICK SCHWARZENEGGER); and their cool friends Travis (LUKAS GAGE) and Chloe (NIKI KOSS). Once back in town, though, they find the streets and buildings deserted. Soon, they are under attack by hordes of zombies.

Their lives are saved by Denise (SARAH DUMONT), a cocktail waitress at the local strip club. Together, they have to find the location of the secret seniors party, save their classmates, and get out of town before the military decimates their little burg with a bombing run they hear about via walkie-talkie.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
Now, right up front, I can tell you that NO serious-minded reviewer is going to give this movie a positive review. Fortunately, I am not a serious-minded reviewer. "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" is a fun flick, folks, for anyone who isn't burned out on zombie flicks, zombie TV shows, or zombie video games. Fortunately, with my hectic journalism schedule, I'm too busy to watch most series TV. So, I don't watch "The Walking Dead" or "Fear the Walking Dead." And I haven't played video games since my old Atari 2600 gave out and I had to say "Goodbye" to Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and their spouses and offspring. So, I am not burned out on the slow-walking undead eager to feast on human survivors.

Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, and Joey Morgan star as three lifelong friends who have been Boy Scouts since they were six years old. Now, they are sophomores in high school and Sheridan's Ben and Miller's Carter want to quit so females will finally look at and touch them. But Morgan's Augie wants to stay in. Augie lost his dad a couple of years earlier, and Scouts are a way to keep his dad's memory alive. Soon, though, none of them will be alive when a zombie virus spreads like wildfire through their small town, and they and the local stripper, Denise (Sarah Dumont), are all that stands between the few human survivors and extinction.

Well, that's not totally true on two counts. One, Denise insists that she is just a cocktail waitress at the local strip club. Regardless, her tight tank top and Daisy Duke jean shorts barely make it through this movie. Two, the zombie outbreak is not a true apocalypse. It's localized to their town, and Ben and his friends hear via radio the military is going to bomb the little burg into oblivion in two hours. That's how long they have to find Ben's sister and her friends, who are having a super-secret seniors party at an unknown location.

That's really all the plot you need for this kind of flick. It provides both a mission for our protagonists and a ticking clock. All that's left are some well-packed zombie attacks and gory kills. And "Scouts Guide" has these in abundance. My favorite is the surprise attack of a crazy cat lady ... and then the attack of her zombie cats.

Clearly, this is not high-brow entertainment. The filmmakers channel the sex comedies of the 1980s and '90s to throw in plenty of penis and poop gags. Some of the humor is a bit off considering the three leads are essentially a trio of sweet, genuinely nice kids. I prefer the PG-rated "Goosebumps," now in theaters, because it doesn't feel it has to pander to the lowest common denominator for movie street cred. But the R rating here does feel more appropriate to what is actually going on in the film. These zombies are ravenous, and the only way to kill them is essentially to blow off their heads, hatchet their heads, jab a knife through their heads, and so forth.

Sheridan was remarkable in movies like "Mud" and "Tree of Life." It's nice to see such a talented actor in a genre pic like this, selling each of his scenes. Miller and Morgan, meanwhile, provide funny support and screen vets David Koechner and Cloris Leachman have fun broadly playing recently zombified townsfolk who have it in for the boys.

"Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" is paced well and ultimately delivers for those who like their yucks served up with plenty of yuks a la "Zombieland" and the "Evil Dead" movies. If this is your thing, you'll be entertained. I give it a 5.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed October 28, 2015 / Posted October 30, 2015

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