185 – Shaun of the Dead

If you see only one zombie romantic comedy, this should be it. It’s a perfect complent to (or substitute for, depending on your outlook) 28 Days Later or Dawn of the Dead, the two most recent zombie movies.

Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a salesman at a small electronics store. He lives with flatmates Ed (Nick Frost) and Pete (Peter Serafinowicz) and hangs out with his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) at the local pub, the Winchester. Shaun’s life is pretty stagnant at this point. He’s 28 but directionless. Liz notices this problem and tells him to take a hike after Shaun bungles the reserving of a table for dinner. Dazed, Shaun gets drunk at the Winchester with Ed. It’s not until after a few days of their bender that Shaun and Ed notice the walking dead.

The zombies are more or less a metaphor for Shaun’s life to that point; that he’s just drifting from experience to experience without actually making anything of himself. He likes Ed, but he can’t rely on him as a friend (Ed is also jobless); no one else in his social circle can stand Ed. Liz’s flatmates don’t like Shaun too much, because they think he neglects her. But Shaun isn’t dislikable, he’s just not all that.. there.

The arrival of the living dead – their genesis is never explained, but it’s moot – gives Shaun a chance to show he’s not some senseless slacker who’d rather play video games or hang around in a pub. And it’s at this point that the movie mirrors the earlier, more-serious zombie films, as he and his friends try to escape the clutches of the zombies.

Shaun’s personality doesn’t change drastically, however; it’s not as if he’s suddenly transformed into Indiana Jones. He makes mistakes, but one thing is certain – Shaun. He appears full of life and confidence, inspiring his followers to .. well, to follow.

Going from the promos, one would think this was full of nonstop laughs. Now, there were plenty of moments when I did laugh out loud, but a lot of the movie – especially the final 30 minutes or so – is fairly serious. Lighter than your usual run-of-the-mill living-dead movie, but not a hilarious film full of wacky hijinks. In some respect, that may have hurt the movie a little – people crack jokes when it seems more drama would be in order. And some of the characters are pretty darn unlikeable, and that never helps unless they’re definitely the bad guys.

Shaun of the Dead: ***

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