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Does the story of a dead girlfriend who comes back to life sound familiar?

Burying the Ex is Joe Dante’s take on the theme. If you wanted more laughs from Life After Beth, then you’ll likely enjoy Burying the Ex quite a bit. Joe Dante is best known for bringing the world Gremlins and he also directed The ‘Burbs—this movie is not up to the same quality as those two titles.

While certainly flawed with its sophomoronic humor, Burying the Ex has some genuine comedy and it’ll also earn some love from horror fans because of some obvious homages, name drops, and even clips of genre classics. The main character works at and one day hopes to own his own horror makeup and props shop. Anton Yelchin plays the main character, Max, while Ashley Greene is the girlfriend, Evelyn—virtually serving the same roles as Dane DeHaan and Aubrey Plaza, downgrades on both parts.

In Burying the Ex, the inciting incident actually happens later in the movie whereas its counterpart started at the outset. It’s an interesting choice to try to introduce and establish the characters first since Life After Beth gave us a look at everyone in the aftermath of the death. Unfortunately, the characters are all unlikeable so it doesn’t matter how well you get to know them. Ashley Greene’s character Evelyn is an annoying environmentalist, vegan blogger trying to inflict her lifestyle on her boyfriend, Max—but Anton Yelchin is too busy being weird and doing Anton Yelchin things. Y’know, the usual.

Oliver Cooper

But the worst is Max’s half-brother, Travis (played by Oliver Cooper). I don’t remember Cooper from Project-X because my brain tried to erase that movie from my memory, but I assume he was the loud douchebag annoying kid. That role is Cooper’s bread-and-butter. I will not forget or forgive Oliver Cooper for single-handedly ruining what turned out to be the last season of Californication. David Duchovony’s turn as Hank Moody on Californication deserved a better death. Oliver Cooper smothered everything with his flop sweat and aggravating, grating personality. Sadly, Cooper’s character in Burying the Ex, Travis, is basically the resurrection of Levon from Californication—complete with over-the-top misogyny.

The rude and crude behavior of Travis is probably supposed to be funny. Instead, those scenes garner unfortunate cringes because it comes off as just plain gross and borderline disgusting. There are some character actors who can pull off intentionally annoying with a tolerable twist. Adam DeVine (of Workaholics fame) is one such actor. I love to hate Adam DeVine. Oliver Cooper doesn’t belong in the same category. I just fucking hate Oliver Cooper. Get this man off my screen, please.

Anton Yelchin

I think whether or not you like Burying the Ex hinges on whether or not you like Anton Yelchin. He’s a poor man’s Jesse Eisenberg. For some reason, I enjoy Anton Yelchin. His scratchy voice and itching demeanor make him perfect for this particular type of role—not a leading man, but capable enough to pull off being an underdog. Unfortunately, I don’t know how many years Yelchin has remaining. Anton is desperately trying hold onto whatever hair he has remaining. In Burying the Ex, I was so distracted by how they attempted to use bed head seemingly as an excuse for his bad combover. It’s pathetic at this point.

And in typical Hollywood fashion, we’re supposed to believe two bombshells (Ashley Greene and Alexandra Daddario) have fallen for Anton Yelchin. One of the saving graces of this movie is Alexandra Daddario—probably most known by men for going topless on True Detective. They are real and they are spectacular. No such excitement is to be had in Burying the Ex, but Daddario brightens the screen just when things are starting to slow down in the second act. Her adorableness kept me watching.

Gratuitous Tit Shot

The gratuitous tit shot doesn’t hurt either. C’mon, I’m a human being, not a zombie.

Ultimately, the slapstick humor wears out its welcome and there isn’t much else to this movie.

Considering the story, I can’t help but compare Burying the Ex to Life After Beth. Burying the Ex is the lower cost, lesser version reliant on repulsive makeup and over-the-top comedy to carry the movie. There are some aspects to enjoy, but the absurdist elements fall flat and it handicaps the actors.

Ashley Greene

Although I didn’t love Burying the Ex, it helps me appreciate the nuance to Life After Beth and recognize how depth adds to a story. Burying the Ex remains on the superficial level and that makes it half the movie of Life After Beth. This cinematic effort of Joe Dante is cheap and harmless yet an empty meal.

If you’re not a fan of this gross-out humor, go gobble down some brains for a more highfalutin reward.

Open Wide

2 out of 5 stars

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