Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In The Garden, There Is A Girl

.

JA from MNPP here, taking a look at one of my favorite films not just of 2004 but of the entire decade. My first thought when I noticed that Shaun of the Dead came out in '04 was, "Really? It's only five years old? I feel as if it's been a part of my life forever." And then my second thought was, "Really? It's five whole years old? It feels like it just came out yesterday."

I really can't imagine a world without Shaun in it, though. What a terrible world that would be! One of the greatest horror films in the 00's, it's smart enough to know you haven't really made a zombie movie unless you've included a zombie feeding frenzy where they pull a person in half...


... and it's also one of the funniest comedies of the 00's - funny enough to have a delightful comic actress like Lucy Davis playing a terrible actress forced to give an acting lesson on how to behave like a zombie in front of an actual impaled zombie...

"Just look at the face: it's vacant, with a hint of sadness.
... Like a drunk, who's lost a bet."

... and on top of that, is also a film entirely capable of yanking your heart-strings right outta your chest. Exhibit A: Shaun's Mum.


It still makes me sad. Damn you, Shaun's Mum.

But in a decade crammed full of the undead (sidenote: when we rolled through 2002 here how did I not write about the impact 28 Days Later had on the next several years of entertainment? Decade of the Undead wouldn't be too off as a calling card for the oo's, although in this current Twilight climate it's a fangier sort of undead we're talking about now), Shaun stands apart. I've seen zombies on a plane, zombies at the prom, slow zombies, fast zombies, zombies as pets, zombies as flotation devices, Nazi zombies, Ninja zombies, Stripper zombies, Bill Murray zombies... much like the undead of which I speak, I could keep going and going and going.

But Shaun, like all the better zombie movies, found a way to make the metaphor of the undead interesting again - what Shaun's really running from is the state of adolescence that he's gotten himself trapped in. Zombie = the ultimate slacker. It's telling that the weapons Shaun uses through the film all tend to be things that he's used to keep him from his actual adult responsibilities: his record collection, his cricket bat, the darts at the local pub...


And refreshingly in the end Shaun doesn't have to totally give up all of his slacker tendencies to become a grown-up and win the girl... he just has to hide them in the backyard, out of her way. A happy ending for all! Well except for all the people those died, naturally.

.

12 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

wow. you know. I enjoyed this movie when it came out but i never put all that much thought into it. I think i tend to be lazy at noticing the ways in which horror pictures use themselves as metaphors.

what a great article. I totally see all this instantly that i never considered before.

plus the movie is very funny. i love how long it takes people to notice that anythign is wrong, too.

Ryan T. said...

Awesome!

Shaun of the Dead and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tied as being my favorite films of that year. I tried to pick a #1, but it ended up being futile.

I own both of them now and watch them ALL. THE. TIME.

Agustin said...

Great film!
Love the tagline which says A romantic comedy.. with zombies.
And it really is!
Too bad Hot Fuzz kind of let me down.
I'm hoping Scott Pilgrim vs. the World doesn't. It has an awesome cast.

JA said...

Nat, Shaun's positively Buffy-esque in its devotion to the metaphor. But I don't blame you for not noticing with most horror because most horror doesn't bother, it's just kill kill kill. Which I think you know I don't especially mind, but I do prefer it when they try. ;-)

Ryan T, them's probably my top 2 for the year as well. The Incredibles fits in there somewhere too. And I Heart Huckabees. Gah 2004 was a freaking GREAT year though.

Agustin, ZomRomCom! My favorite abbreviation ever. I was disappointed with Hot Fuzz too. I liked it, there are a lot of great things in it, but it's not Shaun level. I am very very excited for Scott Pilgrim too though. Word on it from those who've seen anything has been outta this world (although they all seem to have been good friends of Edgar's who've talked so far, so it's perhaps a skewed perspective).

Clement said...

Great post for a great flick. Actually, I enjoyed Hott Fuzz even more. Am I in the stark minority?

adri said...

I laughed. I cried. I loved it. I took my friends to see it. I liked Hot Fuzz, too, but found it sadder, although I loved the theme of friendship.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

What I'm going to say has absolutely nothing to do with this film but... Is it confirmed that it's Gwyneth Paltrow who will replace Charlize Theron in 2010's The Danish Girl?


If this is true, I'm starting to consider the fact that Gwyneth has finally decided she wants to be a good actress after all. Two Lovers this year, The Danish Girl the next... Gotta make up for that Oscar win, Gwynie...

Prospero said...

Linking to this on the Zombie Zone this week.

Lin said...

Nice movie.

kitashley said...

Yeah, Clement, I think you're in the minority. Shaun was an instant classic. Hot Fuzz was funny (the shoot out (filmed in Wells of all places, hysterical!) was phenomenal but I laughed, I cried, I laughed, I cried, I laughed and laughed and laughed at Shaun. The entire cast was brilliant. Who knew a movie like this was so deep. Check out the TV show "Spaced" if you can get your hands on it. Totaly brilliant. I feel a Spaced Marathon over Christmas coming on!

Glendon said...

Clement, I'm in that minority with you. Although I imagine it's because I'm more versed in the action film jokes than the zombie film jokes.

Chris Na Taraja said...

SHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUN!