Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead
Made in: Great Britain
Language: English
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Bill Nighy, Peter Serafinowicz
Year: 2004

Synopsis: Shaun (Simon Pegg) is getting nowhere in his dead-end life. He gets no respect at work, his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) is ready to dump him, he's never gotten along with his stepfather Philip (Bill Nighy), and his best friend Ed (Nick Frost) is utterly useless.

After Liz leaves him for good, Shaun resorts to a long night of drinking with Ed, his only shoulder to cry on. But their troubles only begin when, by the next morning, all of England is overrun by the living dead!

In the midst of battling zombies Shaun is forced to resolve all of the issues plaguing his life. But first he must make it to the only place of safety...the local pub!

The Good: Packed with sight gags, great dialog, a strong cast, and smart editing, this is a comedy with original character and brilliant wit. Solid and consistently funny, Shaun of the Dead is highly entertaining.

Stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have great chemistry (they are close off-screen pals as well), as both are well-known from the hit British TV comedy Spaced. Especially noteworthy is Frost's portrayal of Ed, the lovable doofus who does/says all the wrong things at the worst possible moments.

While Shaun of the Dead is hilarious and clever, it never diminishes the zombie movie. Although it's a humorous take on a popular sub-genre of horror, director Edgar Wright demonstrates that not only is he a fan, he also understands that the modern zombie film, pioneered by George Romero, often reflects the society in which it was made with social commentary/satire.

Romero's original Night of the Living Dead was made during the height of the Cold War, when we pretty much realized for the first time that we had the power to literally end the world thanks to nuclear weapons.

Released during a turbulent time (the 60s), Night of the Living Dead was a message of hopelessness and cynicism towards mankind's ability to deal with such an event, and addressed such crappy sentiments with references to the break-down of family and collapse of civil order.

Fast forwarding to the 21st Century, we no longer live under the fear of nuclear annihilation. The 60s are over (thank goodness) and times are better. Shaun of the Dead reflects this attitude with a more optimistic view of mankind, showing us that if the world ends, it won't end for long.

Families may still fall apart and governments may fail for a time, but eventually things will work themselves out.

Edgar Wright also makes an entirely believable and witty jab at consumerism by pointing out pop culture's habit of making money off of anything, even tragedy.

The Bad: Only a few gripes this time. The build-up was a little slow for me, but by the time the movie got going it didn't matter.

Some of the gore was a little too graphic for a comedy, and there's one particular death scene that I still have trouble watching (if you've seen this movie, you'll know which one I'm referring to).

Who would like this movie: This is definitely a good comedy for just about anyone who wants quality laughs.

This foreign film enjoyed wide distribution here in the US, so chances are you've heard of it already. If you haven't seen it yet, definitely put it on your list of movies to rent or buy.

(3 1/2 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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