Jim Jarmusch’s latest zombie entry is neither “Zombieland” nor “Shaun of the Dead.”
The best thing about Jim Jarmusch’s latest movie “The Dead Don’t Die” is how one of his characters, portrayed by Adam Driver, knows he’s in a movie. Reasons: he loves the movie’s theme song (“The Dead Don’t Die” by Sturgill Simpson), and he read the script. Even Bill Murray calls Jim a d*ck for not giving him the script. That sounds comical.
But the movie fails to exceed the hilarious nature of either “Zombieland” or “Shaun of the Dead,” even if the film is inspired by George A. Romero’s famous movies. It’s more lackadaisical than it is humorous.
We meet Murray and Driver as two local sheriffs, who notice that it’s still sunny out at 8pm, because the Earth has somehow moved off its axis. That pause in the Earth’s rotation causes a zombie apocalypse, in which they act their normal ways (texting, coffee, baseball, etc.), but they still crave for human flesh.
The movie’s poster claims it has “The Greatest Zombie Cast Ever Disassembled.” That maybe right or wrong, become some work on their own levels, while others just drop dead.
The best consist of Steve Buscemi as a racist farmer; Danny Glover as a hardware store owner, Caleb Landry Jones as a zombie movie fanatic; Tilda Swinton as a Scottish Kill Bill mortician; and Tom Waits as a hermit with binoculars. At least, they respectively have a lot to offer in their characters.
The most generic include Chloe Sevigny as another sheriff who hates it when Murray and Driver kill the walking dead, even if they’re already dead; Selena Gomez as a traveler; Carol Kane as an undead drinker; Jim’s wife Sara Driver and Iggy Pop as two coffee-loving zombies; and even RZA as a a delivery guy ends like a fly swat. They just skimmer around with verbal gimmicks, and assume make-up and gore is enough to make it a riot.
The humor here is kind of stupid funny, and I did smile from time-to-time, thanks to Murray and Driver’s chemistry. Again, I love the way Driver knows he’s in a movie. But the comedy ends up becoming dull and sleepy. It lags in different areas of the film, and only relies on the big names to try to carry the movie.
Jarmusch partly made “The Dead Don’t Die” as his own haiku about how pollution can lead to mass extinction, by allowing the zombie comedy plot to take control. But he fails to deliver on material. He’s made some fine movies in the past; this isn’t one of them.