5 · Shaun of the Dead

There’s nothing like a good comedy movie. And Starsky and Hutch was nothing like a... oh, all right, it was okay; I remember enjoying it well enough, right up until that awful cameo appearance by David Soul and Whatsisname at the end. But as Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson double-act movies go, this was about the least interesting.

Stiller showed up again in Dodgeball, which was more entertaining, in that goofy American comedy kind of way. If you like seeing nerdy guys getting whacked in the nuts with medicine balls again and again, Vince Vaughn doing his Swingers thing, and Stiller hamming it up, take a look.

If you prefer your ham black—Jack Black—then try Richard Linklater’s School of Rock, a great recap of Black’s High Fidelity performance, this time as an imposter substitute teacher who teaches his kids about the most important things in life: Rock; and Roll. Completely bombastic and over-the-top, and definitely one of the better US comedies of 2004.

The best, though, could well be the strangest: Napoleon Dynamite, which I saw earlier this week and already wouldn’t mind seeing again. A slow-paced but hypnotic depiction of a teenage loser in rural Idaho, Napoleon is possibly the definitive on-screen nerd, his zombie persona punctuated by unexpected interjections of “Gosh!” and “Sweet!” The supporting characters were just as intriguing—the soporific Pedro; Uncle Rico, with his yen for time travel—and the big finish was completely satisfying.

The UK posters for Napoleon Dynamite carry a plug from Simon Pegg, and it’s probably no coincidence that he was involved with zombies of a different (i.e., literal) kind in the loving homage Shaun of the Dead. It’s a simple premise: take an episode of Spaced and pad it out to ninety minutes with hordes of undead. Since Spaced is one of my favourite British sitcoms of the past decade, and zombies are inherently amusing, I thought it was greaaaaaat.