Reel To Reel:How It Rates: ***1/2
Shaun Of The Dead
Starring: Simon Pegg
Red Flags: Gory Monty-Pythonesque Zombie Violence, Language
Preconceived Notions: The Full Monty meets Dawn Of The Dead
The Bottom Line: Goofy, gory fun with a British accent.
If your friends, your neighbors, and the guy at the checkout counter turned into zombies overnight, would you notice? The makers of Shaun Of The Dead bet you won't. And neither does its title character for the first act of the film. It's a sly observation about the monotony of our lives. And it's the setup for what could be the biggest sleeper hit of the fall movie season.
Simon Pegg is Shaun, a British appliance store salesman with a shallow, mundane existance. Go to work, go to the pub, play video games with slacker flatmate Ed (Nick Frost). Shaun's girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) demands more, but Shaun lacks the social competence to even plan a nice evening out. But it's still a step up from Ed, who's unemployed and glued to the couch.
As Shaun and Liz's relationship deteriorates, so is most of Great Britain. Something -- we don't know what -- is turning people into zombies, but Shaun's too clueless to notice as he channel surfs and walks right past the moaning dead. Shaun and Ed don't plug into what's happening until a couple of zombies show up in their backyard, and they finally figure out, hey, we've got to do something to save Liz and rescue Shaun's dear Mum.
Shaun Of The Dead is full of rapid-fire wit, and watching the film requires your full attention to get most of the jokes through the British accents. The film does have a few gory scenes, but even they look they're being pushed over the top for laughs: think the swordfight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail where the knight loses all his limbs.
Director Edgar Wright, who co-wrote the script with Pegg, doesn't go for the Scary Movie approach, finding much more fun in likable aimless blokes trying to save themselves between pints. We know these people and we care about them, especially Shaun's Mum, even if she has a git for a mate.