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Jamie Foxx slays boring vampires

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“Vampires,” Jamie Foxx’s character Bud tells us in the new movie “Day Shift,” “ain’t Brad Pitt in a leather jacket in some blood rave. It’s not ‘Eclipse,’ it’s not ‘New Moon,’ it’s not ‘Breaking Dawn Part I’ — it ain’t like that.”

movie review

Running time: 113 minutes. Rated R (strong violence and gore, and language.) On Netflix.

No, it’s far less interesting!

“Day Shift,” directed by J.J. Perry for Netflix, turns the fanged night-dwellers into bland, karate-kicking zombies, devoid of any personality and mythic grandeur but ready to engage in hand-to-hand combat and do pointless backflips.

Where, we wonder, is the nuanced acting from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”?

Bud masquerades as a pool cleaner in California’s San Fernando Valley while actually making a buck as a union vampire hunter. He slaughters the undead, rips out their teeth and sells them for cash. Not the sexiest plot, but there it is.

Jamie Foxx (left) and Snoop Dogg kill vampires in “Day Shift.” ANDREW COOPER/NETFLIX © 2022

Are we amused when Foxx knocks around a blood-sucking grandma? Meh. Do I remember anything about Snoop Dogg’s character Big John? Not really. The run-of-the-mill action sequences with Foxx and Snoop are all rather gymnastic, but not notably vampiric.

Life gets complicated when Bud’s ex-wife (Meagan Good) and 8-year-old daughter (who are blithely unaware that he hunts vampires) are kidnapped by a vengeful vamp named Audrey (Karla Souza) and he needs to rescue them from a sound stage, er, subterranean lair.

Dave Franco’s character Seth battles a contorting vampire. Courtesy of Netflix

The movie, which looks tolerably cheap, is mostly a low-stakes comedy with dueling personalities. Dave Franco plays dorky Seth, an adjudicator who is assigned to make sure reckless, rules-be-damned Bud isn’t violating vampire hunter union bylaws. Franco does the tagalong shtick he’s done since “Neighbors,” and that’s OK because it hasn’t gotten old yet. There’s also a twist for his character that makes no logical sense, but it’s fun enough for a spell.

The tone of “Day Shift” seems modeled on the much more enjoyable “Zombieland” movies, starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg as methodical zombie killers. That pair of films also involves rules, a neurotic dweeb palling around with a reckless gunslinger and a comedically tinged creature killing using found objects. The comparisons end there, though. “Zombieland” has unexpectedly moving character arcs and cleverness.   

Lucky “Day Shift” has an Oscar winner in Foxx, who’s appealingly heroic, and gags about a burning sensation on characters’ privates.

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