The comedy trio of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright are now famous for their edgy comedy work, mainly from their first collaborative project, the cult TV show Spaced. For fans of the show, it is fun to note that Shaun of the Dead, their first feature film, is loosely based on the popular zombie-themed episode ‘Art.’ It is co-written by Pegg and Wright, stars Pegg and Frost and is directed by Wright alone. It also features cameos from a host of famous British actors and comedians, including Rafe Spall, Peter Serafinowicz and Bill Nighy.
The story follows the titular Shaun (Simon Pegg) as the deficiencies in his life are brought to the forefront by the sudden, but seemingly inevitable breakup with his girlfriend. Whilst drowning his sorrows his best friend Ed (Nick Frost) strange things begin to happen, and before they know it, they’re in the middle of a full-blown zombie apocalypse, and it becomes a race to find his ‘ex’ and friends and make their way to the only safety they know, the local pub The Winchester.
Fans of Spaced, will immediately recognise Wright’s unique directorial style in Shaun of the Dead, with lots of quick cuts to move the scenes forward in a speedy and waste-less fashion. As with all their works, there are nods and knowing glances to pop culture, television and movies throughout, including cameos from most of the Spaced regulars. The comedy is sharp, witty and hilarious throughout, with almost no missteps. The casting is flawless too, with everyone thoroughly enjoying the roles their given. Special attention must be given to Shaun’s mum, Barbara (Penelope Wilton) who is the encapsulation of a nice middle-class mother.
The strength of Shaun of the Dead is with the bromance at its heart between Ed and Shawn (“Thanks babes”). So utterly convincing is their relationship that you can’t help but think this is a fairly, if exaggerated, accurate representation of what they’re like in real life. It’s so good, that the romance between Shaun and Liz is forced to take a back-seat, even though it is the relationship around which the film is based.
The punch-lines in Shaun of the Dead are memorable and endlessly quotable, especially the “Kill the Queen” jukebox/pool-cue fight scene. The characters are hilarious and loveable, and hit the small number of dramatic scenes that are required with gusto and real feeling. Many have tried to imitate this style since, including the various members of the cast, but nothing has reached the giddy heights laid down by the original and the best. So how’s that for a slice of fried gold?