Madeleine’s Score: Loved it—telling everyone about it!
(5/5 cool points)
Love and Monsters came out in fall 2020, which means it may have slipped under your radar due to pandemic craziness. If so, you’ve been missing out. I’ve only ever applied the term “cute” to two post-apocalyptic movies. The first was Wall-E. The second is Love and Monsters.
When asteroid Agatha 616 barreled toward Earth, mankind came together and shot it out of the sky. The only problem was that the chemicals within the rockets fell back to Earth and turned ordinary insects and amphibians into giant monsters. Within the first year of these creatures walking the planet, 95% of humans were wiped out. Those remaining went into hiding wherever they could. Now, seven years later, young Joel is about to venture out of his underground bunker on a perilous journey to reunite with his high school sweetheart, Aimee.
In the bunker, Joel’s chores include caring for and milking Gertie the cow and making minestrone for his fellow survivors. When he’s not trying (and failing) to hit a target with his crossbow, he’s freezing up from fear against real threats that breach the bunker. Skilled warrior? Not so much.
As the only single person in the bunker, Joel feels left out and lonely. He journals by writing his old girlfriend Aimee letters, and now that he’s finally tracked her down through the radio, he intends to see her in person at last and tell her how he feels. The only problem? She’s about 85 miles away, which adds up to a seven day journey in the perilous above ground wilderness. For loveable yet seemingly helpless Joel, this journey is as much a suicide mission as a romantic gesture. But it’s hard not to root for the guy because of his positivity, sense of humor, and how he just keeps putting one foot in front of the other.
Within the wilderness, Joel encounters a frog the size of a swimming pool, a centipede that will haunt your dreams, and something called sand gobblers. They all think Joel looks like a quick and easy meal. Along the way, Joel meets a dog named Boy. Both without the ones they love, they team up for this perilous journey, during which Boy saves Joel’s life more than once. He really is the goodest doggo! If you’re worried about whether or not Boy makes it to the end, you can find out here before investing your heart in this canine.
Aside from a plucky hero and his loyal dog, there are other things to love about this story. Generally, when the hero comes across fellow survivors in a post-apocalyptic world, the survivors are evil and out to take whatever they can, including the hero’s life. This idea that most humans just dissolve into bad guys when the world goes to hell gets tiresome in this genre, and I was delighted when these kinds of bad guys were in the minority in Love and Monsters. There are more characters to love rather than loathe. Instead of the disturbing acts of darkness we see in most post-apocalyptic films, the ultimate offense in this movie is to be a “food stealer,” which becomes both a running joke and a major plot point.
Additionally, as silly as this premise is, the story is full of heart. Many of the visuals pack a lot of power, such as when Joel’s parents are throwing things in their car to leave town and his mom hands him a chandelier—it’s funny the things we find important during moments of sheer panic.
Love and Monsters is an adorable adventure that even those who normally shy away from post-apocalyptic movies will enjoy. Is the premise a bit ridiculous? For sure. Did I care? Not at all. It has a sweet guy, an amazing dog, and insects the size of VW buses. What more could you ask for?
As for whether or not Joel gets the girl, I’ll leave that for you to find out. Check out the trailer below. As of the time of this publication, Love and Monsters is available to stream on Amazon Prime.