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July 12, 2005

Filed under: movies»reviews»meta

Movie? What movie?

I'm convinced that Roger Ebert must have more fun at his job than anyone else on earth. It's not that he has a great job, although watching movies for a living is kinda spiffy, but the way he so obviously enjoys writing about them is amazing--Ebert does not get enough credit for his gentle, conversational writing style. Check out a few lines from this review of the Australian zombie film, Undead:

In "War of the Worlds," for example, Tom Cruise has the only car that works, after he and a friend peer under the hood and say "It's the solenoid!" And so it is. This moment took me back to my youth, when cars could still be repaired without computers. They just had gas lines and spark plugs and things like that. I never understood anything about engines, but there were always kids in high school who would look under the hood and solemnly explain, "It's the solenoid." The solenoid, always the solenoid. You could impress girls with a line like that. "It's the solenoid." Works every time.

But I digress. Rene hits a traffic jam on the road out of town, and meets a bush pilot named Wayne (Rob Jenkins) and his girlfriend Sallyanne (Lisa Cunningham), who was runner-up to Miss Catch of the Day, which means, I guess, you throw her back in. Sallyanne is preggers, so that she can do what all pregnant women in the movies and few pregnant women in life do, and hold her stomach with both hands most of the time. There is also a cop named Harrison (Dirk Hunter), who if you ask me should be named Dirk and played by Harrison Hunter, as Dirk is a better name than Harrison for a cop whose vocabulary consists of four-letter words and linking words.

They wander off the road and into the company of a local gun nut and survivalist named Marion (Mungo McKay), who if you ask me should be named Mungo and played by Marion McKay, as Mungo is a better name than Marion for a guy who has three shotguns yoked together so he can blast a zombie in two and leave its hips and legs lurching around with its bare spine sticking up in the air. For him, every shot is a trick shot; he'll throw two handguns into the air, kill a couple of zombies with a shotgun, and drop the shotgun in time to catch the handguns on the way down and kill some more.

Marion/Mungo hustles them all into his concrete-and-steel underground safe room, where their problems seem to be over until Marion announces, "There is no food or water." He didn't think of everything. Meanwhile, on the surface, the nature of the attack has changed, and some actual aliens appear. Who they are and what they want is a little unclear; I am not even absolutely certain if they were responsible for the meteorite attack that turned people into zombies, or have arrived shortly afterward by coincidence, making this the busiest day in local history, especially if you include the Miss Catch of the Day pageant.

I alternate between being dumbfounded by the comfortable, meandering cleverness of that review, and wondering how Ebert ever got the job in the first place with a writing style like that.

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