out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Shaun Of The Dead
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost|
Director: Edgar Wright
RunTime: 99 Minutes
Release Date: September 2004
Genres: Horror, Comedy
|*Also starring: ||Kate Ashfield, Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis, Bill Nighy, Peter Serafinowicz, Penelope Wilton, Jeremy Thompson, Tim Baggaley, Mark Donovan||
Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied
An excited viewer states on the Internet Movie DataBase that
"Shaun of the Dead" has "jokes that stem from [social
commentary which are] absolutely hilarious but will probably be
lost on any non-Londoners. I can't speak for any
non-Londoners but me, but the critic cited above is right on the
quid. A genre-bender that is part romance, part satire, part
zombie-horror and part comedy does not shine on any of the
four levels: this critical statement from a guy (me again) who
to have been one of the greatest comic programs on the telly.
From the title of the movie, it's obvious that Edgar Wright,
directing from a script he co-wrote with Simon Pegg, is sending
up "Dawn of the Dead" paying homage to horror pictures about
the undead and commenting critically on their fellow citizens'
habits of work.
The picture focuses on Shaun, who is played by Simon Pegg--
who could easily replace Jay Mohr at Caroline's Comedy Club
whenever the American comic is
absent. Though Pegg is a funny man, here in the role of a
twenty-nine-year old in a dead-end job in an electronics store,
the material he receives from scripters Pegg and Wright cannot
allow him to rise to the occasion, at least not on this side of the
His pals are quirky rather than comic: loser roommate Ed (Nick
Frost), who looks something like George Wendt especially
games; girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), who's about to dump
Shaun because she wants him to take her to more diverse
places than the local Winchester pub;
Shaun's best friends David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy
Davis), with David acting as the company egghead and Dianne
the least unusual and therefore the least amusing.
Much of the humor is based on understatement. For example,
when their London neighbors are increasingly turning into
zombies, biting as many citizens as they can in order to
increase their numbers incrementally, Shaun and Ed look
through Shaun's record collection to throw some disks at the
undead who approach them,
but are selective even as they face death: "Dire Straits'? OK.
Chuck that one at them." When they mortally bop the unlucky
zombies who should not have approached, they're on a roll,
killing them to the tune "Don't Stop Me Now," a song by a group
called Queen (which Americans are likely not to know, thereby
making the humor more insular British than worldwide).
Other quirky characters who emerge are Shaun's hated stepdad
Philip (Bill Nighy), about whom Shaun annoyingly repeats "he's
not my dad!" and Philip's loopy wife, Shaun's mother (Penelope
A look at the Internet Movie Base turns up a number of rave
reviews, even one by the prodigious online critic from the
scepter'd isle, Rich Cline. Some interpret the pic as a satire of
the British citizenry, who work at jobs or spend hours daily on
their video games as though they were zombies. The Austrian
Emperor in Milos Forman's "Amadeus," criticized the prodigious
Mozart's compositions by citing "Too many notes." For this
American, "Shaun of the Dead" has too many genres, none of
which is working.
Copyright © 2004 Harvey Karten
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