The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

The Dead Don’t Die

I went into this movie thinking I would laugh my pants off because Bill Murray is a comic genius.

I left the theater thinking, “I was hoping for Scrooged or Groundhog Day and got The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.”

But then, sometime during the ride home I started thinking this is a movie people could actually write papers about.  Bill Murray isn’t just a comic genius—he’s a legitimate national treasure.

This movie, which was by all accounts humorous and at times even laugh-out-loud funny, was as nuanced and steeped in symbolism, foreshadowing and stylistic artistry as anything I was forced to read in any number of college lit classes.

It took me a minute to get it, but once I did, I loved it.

It somehow simultaneously reminded me of Peter Venkman, William Faulkner’s “The Bear,” and the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, all in the campy setting of what was essentially a 1960’s style drive-in zombie flick.  That’s how hard it made me think and it was wonderful.

Also, I have to say that I am not a fan of Adam Driver (don’t begrudge me—I just don’t respond to him as an actor), but even Darth Douche gave an integral, funny and memorable performance in this movie that was already anything but forgettable.  (He may have actually won me over, but I am reserving final judgment until Rise of Skywalker.)

I’m not going to lie: this one was weird, even by my standards.  There were also things that I hated about, in particular the portrayal of the female cop as some fragile, squeamish fraidy-cat (on that note this movie doesn’t even come close to passing the Bechdel Test), but if you want to see something that is as easily dismissed as fun as it is for being hailed as art, then this is the movie for you.

Driver’s character tells the audience very early on and very often that this is going to end badly.  Let’s hope that doesn’t apply to The Dead Don’t Die’s legacy—it deserves recognition.

One note to my conservative friends—I’m as liberal as they come and even I was slightly wide-eyed by all the not-so-subtle jabs at the Trump administration, or, at least its base (for example, a red MAGA-style hat is actually rebranded to say “Make America White Again” while its owner is frequently wished dead).  It was meant as comedy, but all the same a little uncomfortable in bipartisan company.  Still, I suppose art is often defined by its ability to stir discomfort.  All that to say, if you’re a fan of the current administration and sensitive about politics, you might want to give this one a wide berth.

The Dead Don't Die

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