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"Shaun of the Dead"

Directed by Edgar Wright.
Written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.
Starring Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost and Bill Nighy.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  9/28/04


Even though it was released here in the dead of September, "Shaun of the Dead" is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise litter-filled month.  That's because...oh my has a good script!

This romance/horror/comedy stars Simon Pegg (who co-wrote) as Shaun, a hapless electronics store worker that comes home from work one day, gets dumped by his longtime girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), gets blitzed with his best friend/roommate Ed (Nick Frost), and wakes up to find that his hometown has been taken over by zombies.  Ed and Shaun decide to round up Shaun's mom and his now ex-girlfriend to escape the clutches of those evil undead by escaping to...the local pub???

"Shaun of the Dead" doesn't seem like a parody of any particular zombie flick, but it does send up the slow-moving zombies of other flicks by making everything in this thing one big joke.  By that, I mean that instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off every time they see a zombie, Ed and Shaun alternately do different silly things, like take pictures, or toss rubber balls at the bad guys, or beat them with...a wicket!  This makes all of the zombie kills funny, plus you get some great staging of the zombie attacks, which somehow are a little scary, plenty bloody and as zombie imitations go, pretty slick.

But the strength of this flick was the pairing of Pegg and Frost as our two zombie killers; they are fantastic.  The banter between the two characters they are playing does border on brotherly ManLove, which gives it a sort-of buddy cop angle, with video games, shittalking and zombie bashing.  Later, as Shaun and Ed try to lead Shaun's mom, his ex and a couple of their friends to safety, the work of the ensemble is good enough to keep things alternately tense and comical.  A great soundtrack also gives the flick an added bonus.

Sure, "Shaun of the Dead" is too long, and it seems to take a little while for things to get funny, or even interesting for that matter; you could hear the tumbleweed in my theater as people waited for something cool to happen.  Plus, the reason why the zombies show up in the first place seems to never be explained; sure, plot isn't everything, but the writing in other aspects is quite good, so I'm surprised that Pegg and director Edgar Wright didn't think of something to come up to explain why everyone seems to be, you know, undead one morning.

But, with your choices at the theaters being ridiculously bad right now, "Shaun of the Dead" is a solid choice as we wait for October to save us from the depths of "First Daughter"!!!

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09