September 30, 2004

Shaun of the Dead

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It was inevitable that a movie spoofing the recent slew of zombie flicks would reach screens. Fortunately, the spoof is handled by British comedic genius Simon Pegg. Unfortunately, most of the film”s comedic merits are wiped out in the last 20 minutes.

Shaun of the Dead is earning praise for its incredibly original theme. The movie”s tagline says it all: ‘A romantic comedy … with zombies’. While most spoof movies simply aim to poke fun of the genre they are based on, Shaun of the Dead extends its comedy beyond zombie flicks and makes fun of modern life in general. In the beginning of the film, it almost seems that most of London is already populated by zombies as sleepy, inattentive people wander mindlessly off to their jobs oblivious to the world around them.

The most mindless of these people is Shaun (Pegg), an underachieving appliance salesman, who is only superceded in laziness by his do-nothing roommate Ed (Nick Frost). Shaun bumbles through life, breaking promises to his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), and only finding solace drinking pints of beer in his favorite pub, the Winchester. Shaun and Ed are so oblivious to what is going on around them, they don”t even notice the quickly accelerating invasion of flesh-eating dead right outside their house. Instead, Shaun and Ed flip though the TV channels issuing emergency alerts as quickly as possible so they can start playing video games. This film”s hilarious irony lies in the fact that people considered ‘zombies’ in life actually avoid becoming the real zombies by being natural couch potatoes.

Even when our dumbfounded duo finally realize what is going on, they continue to argue and bumble along providing a ton of laughs along the way. In one hilarious scene when Shaun and Ed discover they can kill the attacking zombies by flinging old records at them, they argue over which records are ‘throw worthy’ and which are too good to destroy.

Even more amusing is how Shaun hatches a completely idiotic plan to save his mother (Penelope Wilton), Liz, and Liz”s two friends (Lucy David and Dylan Moran). Shaun decides to take the group to the one place where he feels secure in his life … his favorite pub, the Winchester of course!

Up to this point in the movie, Shaun of the Dead is hilarious and fun. However, once the characters make it to the pub, the film takes a disappointing turn for drama. Instead of cracking jokes, the movie starts to focus on survival. While you can argue that this film is a good mix of two genres, the switch to drama lacks any transition and is uncomfortable. Matters aren”t helped by a fairly lame resolution. Alas, Shaun of the Dead turns out to be one of the movies that it originally set out to pan.

3 Stars

Archived article by Mark Rice
Red Letter DAZE Staff Writer