I found it hysterically funny. About as ambitious as you'd expect from the title (i.e. not), but it made me laugh like a drain.
The film has two stories: (a) young people pulling a bank job and (b) old bastards in an old folks' home. The former is okay. The latter is pure gold. They link up in the end because most of the bank robbers are doing it to raise money for their grandad (Alan Ford), because the old folks' home is about to close and Ford might have to (gasp) move up north. What, leave London? Specifically the East End of London? That place as seen in all those excellent Guy Ritchie movies (also starring Alan Ford), in which incomprehensible rhyming slang is spoken and everyone either is or used to be a criminal? Mind you, the film wants to have its cake and eat it, so the people pulling the bank job are doing it for dear old grandad. (Don't ask me how this gibes with Michelle Ryan being a master lockpicker. Maybe it's her hobby?)
While I'm on the subject, by the way, can I call bullshit on the whole cockney criminal thing? Apart from being a cliche, the film doesn't know what it's talking about. Two and a half million isn't "enough to retire on", or even as much as it sounds. Even if the characters hadn't been going to split it five ways, that kind of cash won't support you for long after you've legged it to Spain. I also wasn't a huge fan of the macho cockney fake nostalgia mongering at the end, especially after that silly gun action. However I'll forgive that because it's probably near-obligatory given the kind of movie this is and the kind of semi-deranged hard nut characters it's populated itself with. (Okay, that's mostly Alan Ford, but he's enough.)
None of that matters, though, because they have Chas and Dave. If you've never heard of the mighty duo, imagine musical cockney royalty, worth discussing in relation to The Wurzels but from a different English region and not quite as comedic.
Anyway, back to today's movie. The youngsters are a laugh and include a gentleman called Ashley Bashy Thomas, who's playing an entertaining psycho called Mental Mickey. I was ill-disposed towards Michelle Ryan because of Planet of the Dead, but I suppose it's not her fault that Gareth Roberts once wrote a Doctor Who story with his sociopath head on.
There are many gags, which are frequently excellent. The zombie baby is a classic for the ages, the football fans are brilliant and even Ryan gets a good bit. "No ticket." The parents flashback! Even if pensioners hadn't been in this film, I'd have still enjoyed it.
However the coffin-dodgers are what we've really shown up to see. There's Alan Ford, who'd probably tear out zombie throats with his teeth and then swear until their ears rotted. There's Honor freaking Blackman. Richard Briers shows up and doesn't get as much to do as he deserves, but then again he did die only a few months after this film's release and he gets the Zimmer Frame Chase Scene. Tony Selby (Glitz), Georgina Hale (Daisy K) and Dudley Sutton (Tinker in Lovejoy) are in there too, with Hale getting big laughs by being a flirty sexpot. It's glorious. It made me want to stand up and cheer. It's a celebration of old people, all still as obnoxious, childish or badly behaved as they'd always been. Any scene becomes twice as good if it's got the coffin-dodgers in it, especially if they're firing automatic weapons.
As for the zombie stuff, much of it's shorthand. The characters already know the zombie rules and the film only bothers with the absolute bare minimum of set-up for its zombie outbreak. Then, once the undead are everywhere, they get treated like video game zombies rather than movie ones. They're there to be shot, basically. Personally I didn't feel that Shaun of the Dead
was trying to be frightening, but at least there you believed in the threat. Those zombies were definitely killing people. Here, though, there's no effort from either the actors or the movie to convince us that anyone's ever in danger. People aren't afraid of the zombies. They don't act as if they're afraid for their lives. They drive up to houses and barge in, casually shooting anything that shambles too close. There's nothing wrong with this, but it's hardly Romero.
They have fun with the gore, though, which has clearly been crafted with love and enthusiasm. That was a laugh, e.g. the jaw that stays on the arm.
After this and Shaun of the Dead
, I have some advice for any zombies who might be reading this. Avoid London. It might look like a laugh, but you'll wish you'd gone to America instead. This isn't a highbrow film and it could fairly be accused of indulging in its cliches (Cockney criminals, silly gunplay), but it had me roaring. Judged by its own lights, it's a riotous success. The steel plate is cool. Even the music is funny. One of its writers is James "The Fires of Pompeii" Moran, by the way.
"Sealed by order of King Charles II."