Shaun of the Dead (2004) (R)

Edgar Wright made a large splash in the comedy/horror world (a sub-genre that is becoming more and more popular) when he directed the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost buddy-apocalyptic-gag-movie "Shaun of the Dead". Obviously owing a large part of its humor (including a spoof of the name) to the 1978  George A. Romero work "Dawn of the Dead"; "Shaun of the Dead" is delightful, more emotional than you would think, and bloody.
Wright and Pegg, who wrote the script together, found a way to channel enough humor to pass as a comedy and enough action/violence to pass as a thriller.
The movie begins with Shaun (Pegg) listening to his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) talk about their relationship. Shaun is always accompanied by Ed (Frost), who is a crasser, more immature version of Shaun. Needless to say, Liz isn't thrilled with the constant barrage of jokes and curses that flow out of Ed's mouth—that and it's not exactly a romantic date when your boyfriend brings along his best friend. Liz feels obligated to then bring along some of her friends, so she brings alone her flatmates Dianne and David (Lucy Davis and Dylan Moran).
Now a party of five, the romance dwindles and the candles are extinguished. Monotony sets in. When every date is a trip out to the local pub, The Winchester, Liz starts to feel trapped.
She demands some visible difference and Shaun promises her that he can change. He plans an elaborate date for the next time and it pacifies Liz—too bad the end of the world is coming.
By all accounts, this movie first looks like a drama piece with the occasional crass joke thrown in for variety. This is why the film is clever, Shaun is a relatable, if frazzled character. He needs to get his life together.
So on the day that everything falls apart, Shaun gets dumped by Liz...his world really is ending.
But little do he and Ed know—zombies are coming.
"Shaun of the Dead" is perfectly entertaining. It's the movie that launched both Pegg and Frost into the spotlight. If you look at where Pegg's career is now you can see the influences of this movie and its partner "Hot Fuzz". Simon Pegg is in almost everything. He, like Stanley Tucci, is one of the most common go-to guys for a solid performance.
Anyways, back to the film...
The movie is surprisingly sophisticated, using cartoonish violence mixed with jarring edits to enforce its story. There is one tracking shot at the beginning that is brought back later as a frame of's quite sleek looking actually.
Shaun is an emotional person who gets tipped over the edge by Liz's departure. Now, in the comedic act of lost manhood, he wants to win her back; but some creatures happen to get in his way.
Ed is a character who doesn't really care. Nothing can ruffle his feathers—he seems unflappable. It could be his video-game addiction, but he really enjoys the zombie inhabited world.
Surprising cameos pop up like a really quick Coldplay snippet—the movie tries its best to enforce reality.
The violence is Tarantino-esque; it comes at random moments and it exponentially overdone.
Then there's the parents, Barbara and Philip (the infamous step-dad). They get thrown into this violent world and don't comprehend what's going on. It's like explaining MTV or "30 Rock" to your grandparents. Played by Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton, Shaun's parents generate some of the funnier moments in the movie.
Wright and Pegg have their favorites, Bill Nighy and Martin Freeman both make cameos in "Hot Fuzz" and well as a brief Freeman appearance in "Shaun of the Dead".
It's a group of hilarious comedians doing what they do best...what could go wrong?

Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4

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