Sunday, May 12, 2013

Go Goa Gone: Go Goa Go... the theater to check it out!

Let me state up front that I am not a zombie film connoisseur. Actually, I’m not even a zombie film fan. My opinion lines up more with Bella’s snarky frenemy Jessica in the New Moon movie:

“I don't know why you wanna sit through all those zombies eating people, and no hot guys kissing anybody. It's gross. Like why are there that many zombie movies anyway? Is it supposed to like draw a parallel about leprosy? My cousin had leprosy, it's not funny, you know? And like is it supposed to be a metaphor for consumerism? Because don't be so pleased with your own like...self-reverential cleverness, you know? Like, some girls like to shop.”

I think it’s important to state this up front because zombie movies, like many other Western horror/fantasy/sci-fi genre films, have dedicated fanboys who can and will debate minutia until the sun comes up and fries them all. Are they fast-moving or slow-moving zombies? Is it canon? What are the mechanics of zombification? Who gives a shit? It’s all fucking made up, bro. Filmi Girl don’t play that game and she doesn’t care what kind of zombies feature in Go Goa Gone and whether or not they fit arbitrary fanboy criteria for this and that.

So, bearing all of this in mind... I really enjoyed Go Goa Gone!

What the trailers don’t tell you is that Go Goa Gone isn’t exactly a zom-com in the style of Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. It does share some similarities with those two films for sure, but at its heart Go Goa Gone is a stoner comedy. A stoner bromance, really, between Hardik (professional awesome person Kunal Khemu), Luv (Vir Das), and Bunny (Anand Tiwari). As Harold and Kumar begin on an epic quest to White Castle, so do Hardik and Luv drag their friend Bunny off on a cock-eyed adventure to Goa, except instead of a foul-mouthed Neil Patrick Harris, they run into... zombies. And a Russian mafioso named Boris (Saif Ali Khan). And a hot girl named Luna (Pooja Gupta).

Do they all escape alive? Is Boris-ji really as Russian as he claims? Will Kunal Khemu manage to whip up romantic tension with every member of the cast? Which Filmi Girl favorite makes a deliciously sinister cameo? And will Hardik ever find his snacks?

These are questions that can only be answered by watching the film.

I’ve been a huge fan of directors Raj & DK since I first saw 99 in the theater all the way back in... 2009. And Go Goa Gone shows how far the directors (along with writer Sita Menon) have come in the last few years. Perhaps bolstered by the success of Shor in the City, there doesn’t seem to have been an interfering producers telling them to insert a romance track (none), tone down the drug use (weed, weed, weed, booze, cocaine, cocaine, and god knows what else), insert awkward song montages to sell the soundtrack (none), cast so-and-so’s nephew (well, Soha does make an appearance), or to make the leading lady more insipid (Oh Pooja Gupta, may you reign forevermore). If I not mistaken, the film even technically passes the Bechdel Test, despite only having one really main female character. The result is a script - and film - that is wicked, witty, bold, dark, and really fucking funny.

But my real favorite part of any Raj & DK movie is always the cast and Go Goa Gone is no exception. Raj & DK are wonderful at bringing out the humanity in every person on the screen, which is perhaps a bit ironic for a film about zombies. Hardik could easily have been a one joke character - the horndog - but Kunal Khemu gives him oodles of charm and just enough depth that we can understand why his buddies would stick by him all those years. (And why Luna seems attracted to him, despite herself... or maybe that was just Pooja. Girl, I don’t blame you. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why he’s not King of the World yet.)

Luv was another surprise, the slightly dweeby “nice guy” writer stand-in, who in Hollywood films of this sort, ends up with the chick and becomes a hero. Luv may be an author stand-in but if he is, he’s a realistic one! Vir Das, as Luv, is fun to watch and has a nice comedic chemistry with Kunal. Most importantly, all of his scenes with women have the right amount of uncomfortable “nice guy” ick. (Something suspiciously missing from the trailer of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani which aired before the film started. Talk about a zom-com... how old and stale is that plotline?)

The lowest in status of their three member gang, Bunny pays the bills and, in return, the other two get him to relax from time to time and drag him off into weird adventures. I really liked Anand Tiwari in the role; he just seems affable.

Pooja Gupta caught my eye way back in F.A.L.T.U. and she doesn’t disappoint in her second film. Luna seems like a sensible girl, with a good head on her shoulders - she doesn’t freak out any more than the rest; she gets to shoot a gun; and wears practical clothing for most of the film. Just like a real girl!

And, finally, we have Saif Ali Khan as Boris. Certainly my favorite role of his since at least Tashan. The hilarious accent; the Duke Nukem posturing; the bad-assery. The anari half of Sakshay gets to play khiladi and he’s making the most of it.

There are a lot of other things I could talk about but can’t without going into spoilers, so I’ll leave the review here, hopefully to revisit the film again in a few months when the DVD comes out. And maybe then tackle the issue of the consumer, pleasure culture zombies.

Go Goa Gone isn’t flawless - there are a couple of niggling character issues with Luna and Boris, specifically - but that doesn’t really matter since it’s a hell of a lot of fun. And well worth watching if enjoy dark, smoke-filled comedy. And/or chicks firing shotguns at zombies. And/or Kunal Khemu with pants down around his ankles. That’s all I’m saying.

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Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl