David (Dylan Moran, from left), Liz (Kate Ashfield), Shaun (Simon Pegg) và Dianne (Lucy Davis) battle a city of zombies in "Shaun of the Dead."

The movie is a new British comedy about clueless layabouts whose lives center on the pub; for them, the zombies represent not a threat to lớn civilization as we know it, but an interference with valuable drinking time. When it becomes clear that London is crawling (or shuffling) with zombies, best buddies Shaun (Simon Pegg) và Ed (Nick Frost) lead a small band of survivors to the obvious stronghold: the Winchester, their local.

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The irony is that Shaun"s girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) has been issuing ultimatums, asking Shaun to lớn choose between her & the pub. She lives with Di (Lucy Davis) và David (Dylan Moran), who think that in a showdown Shaun would chose the pub over his girl; when Shaun urges them khổng lồ barricade themselves inside the Winchester, David is not encouraging: "Do you think his master plan is going to lớn amount khổng lồ anything more than sitting & eating peanuts in the dark?" This is not really fair, since Shaun is at least armed: He uses his cricket bat lớn wham zombies on the head. A cricket bat is to British movies as a baseball bat is khổng lồ American movies: The weapon of choice for clueless heroes going downstairs lớn investigate a noise that was inevitably made by somebody packing a lot more than a bat.

Liz, Shaun và Ed the best friend have a relationship not unlike the characters played by Jennifer Aniston, John C. Reilly and Tim Blake Nelson in "The Good Girl" (2002). Liz is smart và ambitious & wants khổng lồ get ahead in the world, but Shaun is happy with his entry-level job in retail and his leisure hours spent with Ed, watching the telly and drinking beer -- at the pub, preferably, or at trang chủ in a pinch. When Liz complains that Ed is always around, Shaun says "he doesn"t have too many friends," which is often an argument for not becoming one.

"Shaun of the Dead," written by Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright và directed by Wright, is a send-up of zombie movies, but in an unexpected way: Instead of focusing on the Undead và trying to get the laughs there, it treats the living characters as sitcom regulars whose conflicts & arguments keep getting interrupted by annoying flesh-eaters. In the first two or three scenes, as he crawls out of bed và plods down the street wrapped in the misery of his hangover, Shaun doesn"t even notice the zombies. Sure, they"re on the TV news, but who watches the news? For Shaun và Ed, the news functions primarily as reassurance that the phối will be operating when the football match begins.

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The supporting characters include Shaun"s stepfather Phil (Bill Nighy) & mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton). Nighy is that elongated character actor who looks as if he may have invaded Rhys Ifans" gene pool. He has a unique that generates instinctive sympathy, as in "Love Actually" (2002), where he played the broken-down rock star still hoping patiently in middle age for a comeback. Here there"s something endearing about his response when he is bitten by a zombie. It has been clearly established that such bites always lead to death và then rebirth as a zombie. Once bitten, your doom is sealed. But listen khổng lồ Phil reassure them, "I ran it under the tap."

"Shaun of the Dead" has its pleasures, which are mild but real. I like the way the slacker characters maintain their slothful gormlessness in the face of urgent danger, and I lượt thích the way the British bourgeois values of Shaun"s mum and dad assert themselves even in the face of catastrophe. There is also that stubborn British courage in times of trouble. "We never closed," bragged the big neon sign outside the Windmill strip club in Soho, which stayed open every night during the Blitz. In this movie, the Winchester pub exhibits the same spirit.

Good thing the movie is about more than zombies. I am by now more or less exhausted by the cinematic possibilities of killing them. I"ve seen thousands of zombies die, and they"re awfully easy khổng lồ kill, unless you get a critical mass that piles on all at once. George Romeo, who invented the modern genre with "The Night of the Living Dead" và "Dawn of the Dead," (1979) was essentially devising đoạn phim game targets before there were clip games: They pop up, one after another, và you shoot them, or bang them on the head with a cricket bat. It"s more fun sitting in the dark eating peanuts.


Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.