Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Movie Review: Shaun Of The Dead (2004)

A romantic comedy with zombies, Shaun Of The Dead finds plenty of laughs as a loser stumbles upon his purpose in life: fight-off zombie hordes and regain his girlfriend's love.

In London, 29-year-old sales assistant Shaun (Simon Pegg) is stuck in a stalled life. His girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) is tired of spending every night at the Winchester Pub and threatens a break-up, preferring the company of her roommates David and Dianne (Dylan Moran and Lucy Davis). Shaun has two flatmates: his good friend Ed (Nick Frost) is jovial and jobless, while the more serious Pete (Peter Serafinowicz) is frustrated at both of them for being slobs and not getting on with life.

Meanwhile, a zombie apocalypse is unfolding in London, but Shaun is oblivious to the increasing number of blood-sucking walking corpses. Eventually Shaun and Ed come face to face with two zombies and realize the whole city is over-run by the deadly creatures. Shaun springs to action and devises a plan to rescue Liz and his mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton). But his father-in-law Philip (Bill Nighy) has already been bitten by a zombie, and taking refuge at the Winchester may not be the best of ideas.

A high-energy loony zombie comedy, Shaun Of The Dead thrives on a laid-back attitude, British humour, and lovable protagonists. Star Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright co-wrote the screenplay and use the zombie apocalypse as a backdrop to several familiar themes, including squabbling roommates, a lovers' tiff and break-up, the flighty mum, tension between son and step-father, and the zombie-like routine of day-to-day life in the doldrums. Battling the undead becomes just another obstacle Shaun needs to overcome to put his life back together, once he decides to do so.

The opening act is patient, Wright taking his time filling in the admittedly limited details of Shaun's life. Try as he might this young man cannot do anything right, neither in his love life nor his career, but he does stand by his buddy Ed, who is even further behind the starting line of adulthood. As Shaun scrambles from his apartment to the local store then to work and the inevitable stop at the Winchester, his lifeless routine means he fails to see the increasing number of lifeless zombies roaming the streets.

Once Shaun and Ed finally come face to face with the apocalypse, Shaun Of The Dead kicks into a madcap gear and does not let up. The battles with the zombies are frequent and hilarious, Shaun finds the hero within, Ed discovers the joys of the outdoors, and together they make a formidable pair on a quest to save friends and family. Wright sometimes allows the tension within the group (Shaun and Liz's roommate David simply don't get along) to get in the way of the fun, but overall maintains durable momentum.

Many good people don't survive and tales of heroism abound; but the legend of Shaun Of The Dead will live forever down at the Winchester, where the namesake rifle over the bar may or may not be in working order.



All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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