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10.20.2005

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flick pick | Shaun of the Dead 2004
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: comedy, horror
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  darkly comic, quintessentially quasi-adult
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis Twenty-nine-year-old Shaun's life is pretty simple. He spends his days working his boring retail job, while his free time is divided between hanging out with his best friend and roommate, Ed, and his girlfriend Liz. Sadly, it's the latter that's been causing serious tension of late. Liz is smart, lovely and ambitious, and she's convinced that crude, infantile and overbearing Ed is a bad influence on her spineless, aimless boyfriend. Ed loves video games, television, beer, and hanging out with his mates. Most of all, Ed loves the Winchester, the pub down the street that's been like a second home to him and Shaun for years. And in Ed's company, it's true, Shaun has a tendency to whittle away his hours fruitlessly. After one night too many at the old pub, Liz delivers an ultimatum: she wants to see Shaun make a serious move towards improving his going-nowhere life. Among these improvements, of course, is making a firm commitment to choosing his relationship with Liz over Ed and the pub. Shaun promises he'll change, and as proof, he promises to make a reservation for their anniversary dinner at a fancy restaurant -- which, naturally, he ends up completely forgetting to do. Frustrated by his inability to live up to even this small promise, Liz breaks it off with Shaun. Preoccupied as he is with having been dumped, Shaun doesn't notice at first that all around him, strange changes are afoot in his formerly staid suburban surrounds. After a drunken night with Ed, Shaun wakes up the next morning to find that his town has been zombified. All around, undead uglies clamor to feast on the flesh of the remaining living, and thus turn the victims into zombies themselves. To avoid this fate, Shaun finds himself forced to take action for the first time in his life, and soon begins running around town to round up his family and pals, including his Mom and Liz. With the streets unsafe and his own pad having already been infiltrated, he finds himself turning to his home away from home -- and holing every one up in the safety of the Winchester.

Review I have to confess: horror movies aren't generally my thing. It's not the fright factor, really, but the silliness of it all. Monsters and serial killers and things that go bump in the night -- I've never understood why some folks can't get enough of them. And the subset of zombie flicks, in general, has always seemed particularly idiotic. Stumbling around woodenly with blank stares and mouths agape, zombies have always struck me as too dumb and too slow to be of any serious threat to your average able-bodied human. I don't want to scream, so much as giggle at the absurdity of the idea of these lumbering undead as a threat. So maybe that's why I'm such a big fan of Shaun of the Dead -- a movie that takes the zombie flick and plays it purely for laughs. Mixing horror and comedy isn't a new idea, of course, but there's something about Shaun's approach to the material that's a world away from the running gags of, say, Scream. The humor is decidedly British, which is to say delightfully deadpan with the occasional slapstick thrown in for good measure. Moreover, in the midst of all the funny, there's an actual story that's being told -- about a guy struggling to win back his girl, and choose a direction for his life. Simon Pegg's Shaun is spot-on perfect as the movie's unlikely hero; meanwhile fans of "The Office" will be pleased at the presence of Lucy "Dawn" Davis as Liz. Riffing on zombie classics like Romero's Dead series, this hilarious little spoof pokes gleeful fun at the conventions of a genre that it clearly loves, while also offering an amusing take on the perils of twentysomething slackerdom. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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