Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Shaun of the Deadly Amusing

Last night, I saw Shaun of the Dead with Ophelia. This is British film, replete with British setting, British cast, British style of filming and British humour. (Note "humour," not "humor.") Hence, I recognized only a few of the actors/actresses, namely Bill Nighy. The other, main characters are played by Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran and Nicola Cunningham.

Plot summary from CJAD 800:
On Friday, Shaun (Simon Pegg) is in a rut. At 29, he's coasted through life -- and still hasn't gotten very far, usually winding up at the local pub, the Winchester. His roommate Ed (Nick Frost) looks up to him -- when he can take his eyes off the TV, that is. His girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) is re-evaluating their relationship, particulary after Shaun fails to do something special for their anniversary on Saturday. That day, there are train delays, people fainting in the streets, TV news reports of unexplained calamities -- and did that homeless man just try to eat a ...? No, it can't be... But, it is -- the dead have risen. Saturday's isolated incidents mushroom into a full-on zombie assault and, once daylight breaks, it's Sunday bloody Sunday. As manners and flesh take a beating, it's time to separate men from meat, humans from zombies, and the living from the undead. Shaun and Ed grab whatever is at hand (cricket bat, shovel, LP) to repel the attacking zombies, summoning reserves of strength they didn't know they possessed and straining muscles they forgot they had. Rounding up friends and family, they press on towards the sanctuary of the Winchester. All that stands (or lopes) in their way are hordes of the flesh-eating undead...
I have to say, I really enjoyed this movie. I'm a sucker for British films. I like the setting, the cast and the humour. Shaun was no different. Yay for the British!

In an interesting twist, although Shaun is billed as a comedy, it has elements of other genres as well. Don't be shocked, should you find yourself watching it, when things take a very serious turn and the comedic aspects are left by the wayside for a little bit. Although Ophelia found this aspect odd in many respects, I think it helped. By shifting between seriousness and comedy in the blink of an eye, both were set off ever so much more. Had Shaun been a comedy through and through, it probably would have been too much and I might not have liked it as much as I did. Hence, I think this stylistic treatment worked for the movie.

As for the comedy aspects, Shaun was fantastic! Utterly hilarious at times, especially when it comes to highlighting the various character flaws and/or faults of the main characters. On the whole, the movie doesn't take itself too seriously and it shows through in most of its sequences. From when Shaun and his roommate mistake the first zombie they see for being drunk (and Shaun's roommate grabs a camera to photograph the zombie attacking Shaun) to Shaun using a cricket bat to beat away the zombies (and then some). Just an amusing, funny movie.

One downside, and this is something I feel is inherent in just about any zombie movie I've seen, would be the ending. Granted, Shaun makes it more amusing than I've seen in the past but it still seems too trite, too cliche, too.. expected. It would have been a heckuva lot better had the ending been a true surprise (not unlike the rest of the movie).

My only caveats to this positive review is that you may not enjoy the movie as much as I did if: You're not a huge fan of British movies, film style and humour. Although you appreciate British humour, you're unwilling to look beyond the violence and absurdity of the situation to find the latent humour hiding in the wings. I know, odd caveats, but worth noting.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: DVD-Worthy if you like the Brits.