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Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead

What She said:

She

Sometimes it's just nice to go back to the beginning.  After recently seeing The World's End, The He and I decided to go back to where it all started for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost; well, at least to where their trilogy started, Shaun of the Dead.  It was all the more relevant that screening this film also happened to coincide with one of our favorite holidays, Halloween.  You see, Shaun of the Dead is perfect for the month of October, as it's a super funny and intelligent zombie comedy that offers a refreshing take on the genre.  It's actually one of my favorite British comedies.

The movie follows a not-so-successful store manager, Shaun, who finds himself having a particularly bad day.  His girlfriend dumped him, his job sucks, and his roommate is being extra nasty with him because he has it out for Shaun's other roommate and best friend, Ed.  Ed is pretty much as bad as they come--an unemployed, gluttonous slacker who sits around all day playing videos games and smoking pot.  But Ed and Shaun go way back, and their bond seems to be unbreakable.

Ed and Shaun drink away their sorrows, and the next morning awaken to notice things are a little...off.  And by off I mean that half the population has been zombified, and they're definitely bloodthirsty.  Shaun and Ed team up to try to save Shaun's mother and ex-girlfriend, and they try to find a safe haven where they can wait out the zombie apocalypse.  

Shaun of the Dead

The movie is a witty, hilarious, and tightly written satire of zombie films.  It's actually fun to watch and exciting, while also being just a whole lot of fun.  There are some elements of the film that are distinctly British, and those who appreciate British humor will probably enjoy Shaun of the Dead most.  But I think this film also has mass appeal, and should resonate well with most.  The characters say a lot of flat out funny things and are often in awkward situations.  I love how Shaun's mother, played by the wonderfully talented Penelope Wilton, never wants to be a burden to her son, and so she constantly downplays or tries to hide the negatives.  She strikes me as a typical mom.  And Shaun's strained relationship with his step-dad, played by the brilliant Bill Nighy, is great.  

All around, Shaun of the Dead is fantastic movie. It's well acted, smart, and entertaining.  It's perfect for this time of year, and plays counter well to your typical horror movie fare.  I highly recommend this movie, and just a hint, you might as well buy the trilogy and also enjoy Hot Fuzz and The World's End.

Thumbs up.

What He said:

He

This past summer we saw another Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost collaboration: The World’s End (review here). Considering we haven’t reviewed the other two movies the threesome made together, and the fact that it is the Halloween season, we figured there was no better time than now to revisit Shaun of the Dead.

Shaun has a steady gig at an electronics store and a girlfriend, but there’s just something lacking in his life. His career is going nowhere and his girlfriend is fed up with their social life. She feels like Shaun’s  best friend Ed is dragging him down. Shaun is a simple guy. He doesn’t need a lot in life, but he also never really does anything other than hang out at the pub with Ed (Nick Frost), get high at home with Ed, or spend all day playing video games with Ed. Ed is kind of the problem. Their other roommate Peter (Peter Serafinowiz) feels the same way. He’s sick of Ed just sitting around the apartment, trashing it up, and not contributing to the rent as often as he should.

Shaun of the Dead

With his relationship on the rocks and after having a bad day at work, Shaun needs to blow off some steam. So of course, he heads on over to the Winchester, and asks his best bud to tag along. The two of them get so drunk that they are oblivious to the zombie apocalypse has taken place throughout the night. The two eventually figure it out and then begin to formulate their plan for survival.

Despite the fact she recently dumped him, Shaun simply can’t go anywhere without his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield). Shaun also wants to pick up his mom and her stepfather too. After gathering all those near and dear to him, Shaun decides the safest place to hunker down is the Winchester.

The gang spends the rest of the movie running from and fighting zombies all over various parts of town. They make it to the Winchester, but it’s not all smooth sailing from there. There are thousands of zombies banging down the trying to get in.
The great thing about this movie is that it works on so many different levels. You’ve got the fact that Shaun is a bit of a slack – not as much of one as Ed mind you – and is dealing with some everyday issues. His girlfriend wants him to take some initiative, his mother is constantly worrying about him and trying to protect him, and his stepfather is always reminding him how much he could benefit from getting his act together. This movie is a comedy about zombie’s, but still manages to create really believable and realistic characters. The movie doesn’t solely rely on physical comedy either, it’s quite witty at times. It also works well as a horror movie too. There is every bit as much as blood, guts, and zombie killing action you’d expect in classic zombie flick.

Shaun of the Dead

This is all because it is very tightly written and acted. Wright and Pegg wrote a fantastic movie. Pegg is a great lead, Frost is a great sidekick, and there’s tons of great supporting roles too. Bill Nighy and Penelop Wilton are great as Shaun’s parents. There’s zombies everywhere and she’s still trying to protect him, while his stepfather is nagging on him. They are fighting for their lives and Liz and her friends are still telling Shaun how much of a screw up he is (at least her friends are, he wins her over as the movie evolves). Many comedies will rely on the jokes and if a movie is funny enough that is fine. But to see a comedy actually dedicate time and energy to well written and acted characters, it’s refreshing.

Prognosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on October 19, 2013.

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