Saturday, October 02, 2004

No Pawn of the Dead: Shaun of the Dead

The Americans don't have the monopoly on satire, as "Shaun of the Dead" proves. Set in suburban London, the film chronicles the dreary life of salesman Shaun (Simon Pegg), who shares a two-story flat with two of his mates. One, Ed (Nick Frost), has been a chum since elementary school. Overweight, unemployed, smelly, but still charismatic, Ed does little to contribute to the expenses and he encourages Shaun in their nightly debauches at the local, Winchester Pub. Shaun and Ed are so self-involved that not only does Shaun's girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) break up with him, but the guys are completely oblivious to the viral carnage surrounding them, as their neighbors (and even Shaun's stepfather, played by Bill Nighy) begin to turn into human devouring zombies.

But the sudden influx of terror spurs Shaun into a kind of (often misplaced) heroism, and he sets out to save Ed and Liz, as well as his parents. He's determined to end up in a safe, familiar place (the Winchester Pub, natch) and they battle the tenacious undead in their plight to get there.

The film is full of witty, unceremoniously delivered lines, and wry observations that span the cultural wave. Meaning, even if the humor is steeped heavily in British lingo or habits, it's recognizable and funny. There are fairly gruesome moments and portrayals, but there are also some very touching moments, too. Pegg delivers a fine performance -- and he's in nearly every scene. There are quick cameos of recognizable Brit character actors, including "Shaun" star Lucy Davis' crush from the BBC TV hit "The Office," Martin Freeman (who plays Tim Canterbury to Davis' Dawn on "The Office"). Definitely worth seeing for a solid laugh.