Go Goa GoneReviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 05/11/13 12:57:46
"Go Goa Gone" isn't going to be of a whole lot of interest to serious horror movie fans unless they're trying to fill a zombie passport of some sort and were missing a comedy from India. Otherwise, it's pretty familiar stuff, far from the leading edge where intensity is concerned, the jokes either aren't that funny or don't really translate, and the opportunities for just going weird get passed by.For heroes, it gives us Hardik (Kunal Khemu) and Luv (Vir Das), two stoners who only have jobs because of their more responsible roommate Bunny (Anand tiwari). Luv decides to clean up for his girlfriend, gets dumped... Look, they wind up on a trip to Goa, Luv meets a new girl, Luna (Pooja Gupta), and the drugs at a rave turn everyone into zombies. The ferry back to the mainland won't be back for a couple of days, so they and Russian gangster Boris (Saif Ali Khan) have to stay alive until then.
That's fairly basic material, and the filmmakers manage to stick reasonably close to the template; the biggest twist is that the "heroes" are screw-ups, but that's hardly enough of a variation to be worth noting these days (heck, a zombie dressed as the title character from Shaun of the Dead shows up at one point). It's a bit bloated for something so basic by western standards - though the 110-minute running time is arguably short for an Indian movie, it could easily be tightened down to an hour and a half. Directors Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru (who co-write with Sita Menon) spend a lot of time establishing Luv and Hardik in the opening act for very little payoff later, and what's the point of do a freeze frame with the characters' names in big letters if you're just going to stop the movie to have everyone introduce themselves to each other three times? There's also pauses to explain in dialog how zombies work compared to vampires/ghosts/evil-deads, though that may be necessary for the Indian audience; I gather there have only been a few Hindi-language zombie pictures before this.
Raj & DK (as they're credited) do okay introducing the audience to this material, although I suspect they're kind of limited in what they can do in terms of budget and what will fly in the relatively conservative Indian market. The zombie make-up is often more akin to what one might use for a Halloween costume than the gaunt, chunks-missing and realistically gross visuals that are state of the art these days; what gore we see is fairly tame. The action choreography is fairly basic, too, often consisting of Boris shooting something off screen and zombies falling; it's not often we get cause and effect in the same shot. There are some bits that aren't bad at all, including an early attempt for Luv & Hardik to try fight zombies off with their fists and any time the emphasis is more on them being surrounded by a slowly tightening horde.
And though they often fall short of their goals, there are moments when these guys come up with something genuinely weird and funny. The idea of a zombie stoner comedy is actually a funny enough idea that it's kind of a crying shame that there's not a whole lot of time when the guys smoking weed and dealing with the living dead overlap - and how do you build such a perfect set-up for someone being mistaken for a zombie because they're high and not execute it? Still, the zombies' weakness and how its exploited is kind of brilliant, leading to some great cartoon violence in the finale. I suspect that certain gags work pretty better as a parody of Bollywood movies for someone with more familiarity with the form than I have - although there are no actual musical numbers, a frequent bit of item-number choreography is turned on its head in a way that had me laugh out loud, and there are riffs on things like the believability of Saif Ali Khan playing a Russian gangster.
Khan's likely the biggest name in the movie for Hindi film fans, although he plays Boris so broadly and with clunky enough catchphrases that one might wonder why. The younger cast is appealing enough, at least. Vir Das, Kunal Khemu, and Anand Tiwari play off each other well enough even if they can't elevate some basic material, and Pooja Gupta is plenty charming as the movie's pretty, reasonable center."Go Goa Gone" could be a lot better, and I'd kind of like see it either given a western remake where it can be zippier, raunchier, and gorier or play out as full-on Bollywood with songs and abrupt tone changes and everything. As it is, it's kind of amusing and sort of fun if you want a switch-up from either standard zombie horror or Hindi romance.
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