Washed-up musician slacker Dave (Alexander England) is distraught when he and his girlfriend break up, forcing him to move in with his sister and her son, Felix. But when Dave meets Felix’s very sweet, very pretty kindergarten teacher Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong'o), he hopes to convince her to go out with him by volunteering on a school trip to a farm. Once there, Dave has to compete with a charming children’s TV personality, Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad), for Miss Caroline’s affections. To make matters worse, a zombie outbreak escapes a nearby military base, spreading like wildfire to the farm, trapping the grownups and children there.
Much of the first act of ‘Little Monsters’ relies on dropping f-bombs and being controversial, for example, Dave calls a kid a retard, for humour. It lacks nuance and feels a bit basic with slapstick jokes based around masturbation and the male characters getting beaten up. Elsewhere, the kindergarten children are utilised to give the movie heart and charm, and in fairness, they are damn cute, but relying on their annoying, incessant nature for laughs just seems a bit lazy.
Leading the cast, Nyong'o easily convinces as the patient teacher with a heart of gold and has a lovely singing voice and adorable ukulele to boot. She goes crazy when it comes to protecting the kids, and you can almost see a bit of Red in her ferocity, which ‘Us’ fans will get a kick out of. Gad’s TV personality, armed with his puppets, singsongs and choreography, is all too real and similarly changes personality once the zombies arrive – into a foul-mouthed jerk with no intention of helping anyone aside from himself. In fairness, he’s probably the best character in the movie, but only shines for so long.
England is the least interesting of the three leads, though he has his moments such as a couple of heart to hearts with Gad and Nyong'o’s characters, the former about the fulfilment that comes with caring for kids. But frustratingly, the film relies on cursing at children and calling them the c-word for laughs. It’s not that this reviewer is being prissy about the foul language. It’s just that you wish the film had more going for it as the cursing gets repetitive and dull.
It’s a shame too because the concept behind ‘Little Monsters’ is smart in its simplicity. You get the sense there was a lot of potential here. But for a ‘kids say the darndest things’ movie, you’re better off turning to ‘Kindergarten Cop’, and as a zombie comedy, there are many more better ones out there.