Ed: I’m not gonna say, you know, “there’s plenty more fish in the sea.” I’m not going to say, “if you love her, let her go.” And I’m not going to bombard you with clichés. But what I will say is this: it’s not the end of the world.
What more do you need? Zombies make things more interesting. Just look at Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Of course, the brilliant team responsible for this film do so much more than simply set a traditional romantic comedy in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. There’s a lot going on here, which is to be expected from the creative team that brought us Spaced. (And if you’ve never seen Spaced, you must remedy that immediately.)
Shaun is the first film in the Blood & Ice Cream Trilogy (or Three Colours Cornetto Trilogy, so named for the Cornetto ice cream featured in each film and in reference to Krzysztof Kieslowski‘s Three Colors Trilogy), followed by Hot Fuzz and–provisionally titled, yet to be written, non Pirates of the Caribbean related–The World’s End.
It’s a fairly simple, yet marvelously executed, story. Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a bit of slacker, going nowhere, working a crap retail job, generally just lounging about with his best friend and fellow slacker, Ed (Nick Frost). This lifestyle doesn’t sit well with his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), so she dumps him. Just as Shaun decides to sort his life out, the dead begin to walk the earth. And zombies are quite a wake-up call. So, with a brilliant–less than subtle–motivator urging him on, Shaun decides to pull things together and grow up. Of course, there are always growing pains… more so when facing hoards of flesh-eating zombies.
As already evidenced in the Spaced series, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have a keen sense of the life and times of the modern twenty-thirtysomething, in addition to a remarkable penchant for pop culture references. (As does fellow Spaced creator Jessica Hynes née Stevenson, she has a cameo in the film.) In the age of quarter-life crises, when thirty is the new twenty, it seems that it takes folks a bit longer to acclimate to the “real world,” and many feel adrift, generally viewed as slackers, no longer children, but not quite grown up. And at its heart, that’s what Shaun of the Dead is about, growing up… it also happens to be bursting at the seams with the walking dead.
Smart, funny, Shaun of the Dead is an entertaining treatise, of sorts, on modern quarter-lifers. Whether you’re in the middle of your own quarter-life crisis or not, the film is great fun.
And yes, if I were doing ties on my list, then Hot Fuzz would be a tie with Shaun of the Dead, doing for the buddy cop movie what Shaun does for the zombie movie.