Groovers and Mobsters Presents: The Buddy Flick

Shaun of the Dead, 2004

“Take car. Go to Mum’s. Kill Phil, grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?”

Here’s to buddies, chums, best pals, amigos, companeros, and hetero lifemates, and what duo so fully epitomizes the spirit of cinematic friendship better than Simon Pegg and Nick Frost? No movie starring these two lads has ever failed to capture their bond and thrive on their chemistry, not simply because they’re both great actors but because their friendship extends beyond the studio and into real life, and essential 2004 offering Shaun of the Dead probably best represents their rapport and dynamic out of all every project they’ve taken on together.

When a zombie invasion threatens to spell the end of life as they know it, friends Ed (Frost) and Shaun (Pegg) man up and take it upon themselves to save their friends and loved ones from becoming ghoul chow. We’ve seen zombies invade the world plenty of times before, but never with this much wit and charm; Shaun gets silly, absolutely, but never to the point where director Wright’s intentions are to deride the genre and embarrass its fans. Rather, the film celebrates its horror roots by defining itself as a bona fide entry in the genre, and that genuine love for all things pertaining to the flesh-eating undead hordes shines through in frame after frame.

But as essential as that effusive admiration for zombie fare is to the movie’s success, it’s the friendship between Pegg and Frost that ultimately make the story so special and memorable. Shaun of the Dead isn’t just about the walking dead overtaking the world and devouring the living, and arguably the zombies are just there to frame the narrative concerning the friendship of the picture’s leads. Ed is a career slacker with no designs on improving his life or breaking out of his arrested development; Shaun’s not much better, but he wants to change even if the tools to enact that change have been denied him. And Shaun’s always defending Ed from the other people in his life– Pete, their third roommate, and Liz, Shaun’s girlfriend, for example– despite the fact that the good-natured but unapologetically lazy Ed is kind of indefensible. Shaun of the Dead revolves around their back-and-forth and truly rides on both actors being able to play off of one another, a requirement which the pair effortlessly surpass thanks to their very real off-stage friendship.

In a picture with a lot to offer its viewers, it’s the buddy element that resonates the most with us. Wright brings on the zombies, cheeky comedy, and impressive gore, blending them together to yield one of the best entries in the genre of its time and maybe even all time, but there should be little doubt that Shaun‘s secret weapons are Pegg and Frost.

(Special thanks to Marc and the gang over at Movie Mobsters for organizing another edition of Groovers and Mobsters! Click it here to see the collected list of entries in this go-round!)

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7 thoughts on “Groovers and Mobsters Presents: The Buddy Flick

  1. Love Shaun of the Dead!!! I actually saw Hot Fuzz first in theaters in London. Then saw Shaun of the Dead on dvd and didn’t realize it was made by the same guys LOL.

  2. Pingback: Groovers & Mobsters Present: The Buddy Flick | Movie Mobsters

  3. Good pick! I love Simon Pegg and Nick Frost together — they have the same kind of chemistry as Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, only Pegg and Frost are more British. This movie usually gets lumped in the zombie genre, but it’s defintely a great buddy movie.

  4. Hilarious comedy and a refreshing take on the zombie genre, I wasn’t all that impressed the first time I saw it but it has grown on me over the years.

    • Seeing Hot Fuzz in London itself must have been a pretty cool experience, Blain. For my part, Hot Fuzz and Shaun both have the same effect of transporting me to the times I’ve been to London myself, so there’s that!

      Thanks Meredith– glad you agree! I’m a huge fan of the Pegg/Frost connection; seeing them together never fails to entertain me and engage me, even in their alleged “lesser” movies like Paul (which I loved). And I definitely think that Shaun of the Dead CAN be lumped in the zombie genre, but brings a lot more to the table than just a zombie apocalypse.

      Castor, seems like Shaun is the kind of film that could easily grow on you after multiple viewings– assuming it doesn’t capture your interest the first go-round!

      • I’m with Castor here. For some reason, I didn’t care much for it on my initial viewing either. Since then I have fallen in love with it, enough so that I would put it near the top of the zombie genre.

        Also, I really enjoyed this post. You made me really want to watch it again.

  5. Forgive my delay in getting over here, but man oh man what a perfect film for this series! Shaun and Ed put up with each other like an old married couple. They’re totally fine with the habits of the other and are better friends for it. Though for as much as I adore their chemistry in the film it doesn’t get better than the quaint but special woodshed scene at the end. Now that’s friendship:) Smashing write up Andrew, thanks for being part of this!

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