Before my screenings of The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale, first time director Lee Min-jae instructed us to simply try and get into the flow of the film. It was truly great advice that augmented my experience with the film, and also suggests that Lee truly understands the material he has created.
Unfortunately, this advice is reminiscent of what the film’s general focus is. Zombie films are one of the great social commentary genres. From Night of the Living Dead, to 28 Weeks Later, zombies often take on a greater social meaning. They become metaphors for those propagating consumerist culture, fear of the other, the sick, the dying, you name it.
It’s hard to tell what the social metaphor of The Odd Family is, precisely because there likely isn’t one outside of a shoehorned in finger-wagging at medical capitalism. This comedy about a family that discovers a zombie (Jung Ga-ram) wandering around their provincial rural Korean village, ascertains to offer little outside of a pleasant genre exercise. You might be able to point to the fact that the virus is supposedly the result of insidious pharmaceutical testing as possible evidence of a greater meaning; however, this is brought up through radio exposition mere seconds into the film, and is never really explored again. Thus, it seems unlikely the film really has the exploration of pharmaceutical companies at the forefront of its mind.
To be fair, as a pleasant genre exercise it succeeds. It’s a film of two halves; one part a rags-to-riches family comedy, the other an apocalyptic joy ride. The second half offers greater entertainment than the first, as nothing in the first tops the film’s final, gut-busting gag. The Odd Family knows what it is. The faster you get on board, the more enjoyment you’re likely to have.