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SHAUN OF THE DEAD (director/writer: Edgar Wright; screenwriter: Simon Pegg; cinematographer: David M. Dunlap; editor: Chris Dickens; music: Daniel Mudford and Pete Woodhead; cast: Simon Pegg (Shaun), Kate Ashfield (Liz), Lucy Davis (Dianne), Nick Frost (Ed), Dylan Moran (David), Bill Nighy (Philip), Penelope Wilton (Barbara), Jessica Stevenson (Yvonne), Peter Serafinowicz (Pete); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Nira Park; Rogue Pictures; 2004-UK)
“Silly drop-dead sight gags that don’t seem to work as well as intended but, nevertheless, offer some humor.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Edgar Wright is director and co-writer with the film’s star Simon Pegg of this spaced-out zombie-comedy film about an aimless 29-year-old North London TV salesman, Shaun (Simon Pegg), who is a lovable dim-witted loser. It’s a devilishly snappy sitcom comedy (no surprise here since Wright and Pegg are both TV writers who created the hit U.K. television series Spaced) that more-or-less gets by on silly drop-dead sight gags that don’t seem to work as well as intended but, nevertheless, offer some humor.

Shaun has a lovely girlfriend named Liz (Kate Ashfield), but disappoints her to the point where she breaks off the relationship because he has no ambition, is too predictable and seems to only enjoy his PlayStation video game and going regularly to the neighborhood local pub, the Winchester, to drink his pints of ale with the other losers who hangout there. Shaun’s flatmates are Ed (Nick Frost) and Pete (Peter Serafinowicz). Ed is oafish, slovenly, childishly comical, and a slacker; while Pete is an uppity neatness freak and a corporate driven yuppie. Needless to say there’s dissension in the apartment, with longtime chums Shaun and Ed on the same slacker side of the fence.

The film picks up on George Romero’s idea for a zombie movie (which is hardly fresh anymore), as the undead hit the streets walking in their lumbering methodical grim manner ready to bite the living and the television news programs declare this emergency as Z-day–warning residents to stay inside behind locked doors during this crisis and if attacked by a zombie whack them on the head. Shaun is unaware of this even though he’s always watching TV, but flips to the programs that show nothing of what’s going on in the world. He’s dressed in his drab appliance-store uniform of a white shirt, tie and name tag as he reports to work in the morning and is totally oblivious that there are zombies in the streets (the joke being he can’t tell the genuine zombies from the regular workday zombies caught in the rat race) and that there’s a massacre taking place in his neighborhood. When the two dullards, Shaun and Ed, come home drunk late at night they are awakened early in the morning by a zombie in their backyard and when another enters their apartment they at last figure out that there’s something amiss in London. Shaun beats them back with a cricket bat and visits with loyal buddy Ed his mother Barbara’s flat where she lives with his stepfather Philip, of the last seventeen years, someone he can’t help resenting even though Philip tries his best to be nice. Dopey Shaun then plans to save Liz, even though things are over between them and she’s perfectly safe in her flat. He finds her there with David and Di, a couple who take a dim view of Shaun–especially David. But Shaun talks them into going with his crew to the Winchester, where they must travel through the dangerous streets filled with roving bands of zombies. They all take in the apocalypse in the streets by fighting off the swarming zombies in a bout of mostly unfunny absurdities and while inside the pub, which proves to be no sanctuary, continue the good fight. The straight horror story ending lacked any fright and the comical moments failed to generate any inspired lunacy when it counted the most; overall it’s a strictly for zombie lovers type of flick, those whose sense of humor differs greatly from mine, and it’s, perhaps, made to order for those who like anything that requires no thinking but allows for laughs at someone else’s expense. It, also, seemed more like a TV program than a feature movie, as it ran out of gas at the one-hour mark and just wound down in a repetitive way.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”