Shaun of the Dead
2004
Thirty-something slacker Shaun (Simon Pegg) has no clue what to do with his life or with his relationship with his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield). But motivation comes in the form of a freak zombie attack that has once-ordinary citizens terrorizing the streets of London. With support from his well-meaning best mate (Nick Frost), Shaun acts quickly to save Liz and his mother (Penelope Wilton) from danger. But is it simply too late for heroics?

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

Some young men finally grow up when their parents die. Others do when their first son or daughter is born. What happens is a permanent end to a comfortable existence as a slacker, but this film draws a lot of laughs from how resilient as slacker attitude can be in the face of adversity, which in this case just happens to be hordes of flesh-eating zombies invading London. The film mines a rich vein of horror-movie humor (anyone with even a remote familiarity with Romero will count multiple in-jokes), but the focus is always on the process of this 29-year-old boy becoming a man, and it's a transformation illuminated by plenty of observational humor and dry British wit, the kind of thing you'd get if "Seinfeld" took place in London and happened to feature a zombie outbreak in a sweeps-week episode.

The cast is uniformly terrific, investing their characters with welcome nuance (I liked the way Lucy Davis communicated her character's crush on Shaun with inflection alone), but the triumphant scene-stealer is Nick Frost as the slovenly buddy in a role written perfectly for him; he provides the film's biggest laughs and a considerable amount of its charm. The screenplay by star Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright is a reliable foundation for the film; it is tightly paced and knows exactly how to get where it's going with important interludes that seem like comic diversions. The film strikes a handful of false notes, such as when one character meets an unexpectedly (and very) gory death by zombies, but overall it does a fantastic job of walking that tightrope between horror and comedy, between serious and silly, between meaningful and frivolous. The growing trend of the day in cinema as in cuisine is to combine divergent flavors, and "Shaun of the Dead" is among the most benefitting, realizing some of the best potential in the intersection of a standard horror-movie crisis and a romantic comedy's idealism. It's superior entertainment.

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Erik Bates: “It ruled.”

Love this movie. It's been randomly popping up on HBO or Cinemax here lately, and every single time it's on, I can start watching it, no matter where in the movie I join in. Pegg + Frost is a great combo.

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