a critiQal film review My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)

Plot: A lovesick teen (Lowery) comes back as a zombie after bungling his scheme to impress a girl (Lind).

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When NetFlix® wasn’t showing a film that caught our eye for our retro review, we tried Amazon Prime, without much hope. After all, the last time we had looked through their selection, we hadn’t recognized most of the films on there. As it turns out, we should have been checking back with them more often, as a whole slew of films – including a lot of new releases – were now on there for our viewing pleasure. Those included a movie I hadn’t seen in forever: My Boyfriend’s Back.

I remember seeing this zombie comedy over 10 years ago, and enjoyed it. But, would My Boyfriend’s Back still appeal these days, or had hilarious zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead (2004) been so good, it had ruined it for the other films in the zombie comedy genre?

The main character of the film is played by Andrew Lowery, and, while he’s appeared in films like School Ties, he’s not exactly a household name. While his acting isn’t exactly Shakespearean in My Boyfriend’s Back, it doesn’t really have to be. He does a decent job as a lovestruck (undead) teenager, and he easily guides viewers along the film’s quirky path.

Traci Lind, as the love interest, again won’t win any acting awards, but her throaty, over-the-top performance does blend in nicely with the film. She also, thankfully, seems to have good chemistry with Lowery. Since their chemistry is at the heart of My Boyfriend’s Back, that’s definitely a good thing.

While the main characters may be unknown to most viewers, part of the fun of watching My Boyfriend’s Back is to catch glimpses of well-known actors in smaller parts. Edward Hermann (Herman Munster) pops up as Andrew Lowery’s dad, and Cloris Leachman shows up as a woman who helps Andrew along the way. And, there’s the fellow teens, including Andrew’s rival Buck, played by Matthew Fox (“Lost”) and his co-hort, played by a young Philip Seymour Hoffmann. There’s also an appearance by a young Matthew McConaughey as a fellow moviegoer! It’s catching these now famous actors playing supporting roles that just adds to the fun of the film.

The plot itself takes a simple idea – boy tries to go to prom with popular girl – and turns it on it’s head by making the boy (in this case Andrew Lowery) a zombie. Even while keeping with the normal high school themes, the film tosses in lots of references to his zombie status. These parts are the highlight of the film, especially as the film tries to dispel prejudices against zombies (making them seem “shallow”) even while promoting the worst parts of the zombie lore.

This leads to hilarious sequences like Andrew’s mother, played by Mary Beth Hurt, bringing him home a “snack” (after she learns he can’t eat regular food) in the form of a young boy she picked up at the market. He’s aghast, and she can’t quite figure out why he’s upset when all she’s trying to do is make sure her son doesn’t go hungry. It’s that kind of quirky humor that runs throughout all of My Boyfriend’s Back.

The biggest drawback of My Boyfriend’s Back lies in it’s overuse of the dream sequence. While lost of films include a dream sequence (and the first of these in this film is a funny play on the teen sex fantasy), this film tends to go back to that dream sequence again and again, making viewers not quite sure if what’s being played out on screen is another dream sequence or is actually happening.

While My Boyfriend’s Back goes back to the dream sequence well a bit too much, and it’s ending wraps things up a little too easily, viewers should get a kick out of most of the film. With it’s comedic take on the teen love story, it makes an old theme feel new again. Toss in it’s quirky dichotomy of zombie “prejudice” vs. the normal zombie lore, and My Boyfriend’s Back is a quirky good time. Sure, it might not be for everyone (there is an air of cheesiness to the whole film, helped along by lots of over-acting), but it’s still worth checking out.

Who knows? You may find yourself liking My Boyfriend’s Back as much as we do.

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