Valentine’s Day is upon us and despite our reputations as loveless losers, plenty of us geeks have to navigate the tempestuous waters of providing adequate romance to keep our sweetie satisfied. That’s never easy, but for Denver-area geeks this year, there’s a tailor made option just waiting. The Alamo Drafthouse is delivering one of their signature beer-and-movie pairings on actual Valentine’s Day, featuring one of the greatest geek date movies of all time — Shaun of the Dead.
What, you don’t think of Shaun as a date movie? Have you even seen the movie? (Or, if you prefer, do you even Shaun, bro?) After all, Shaun is no mere zom-com — it is a full fledged zom-rom-com. And it works great as any combination of two of those rhyming partial words, too, so geeks and non-geeks alike can appreciate it. Obviously, this being a geek column, there’s an assumption that you gentle readers are at least geek curious, but I know very well that geeks are often in mixed relationships — the people we love are not always geeks themselves. Usually that means that on an occasion like Valentine’s, someone has to suffer. But not here. Not with Shaun.
That’s the first thing that makes it such a great date movie — you don’t have to be a zombie fanatic to love it. I’ve written about that exact topic in depth before, so I won’t get too deep into it here, but the short version is that this is a film that works on many different levels, and most of them don’t require you to give a single fuck about the walking dead. Sure, you probably do love zombies, but if you don’t, the jokes are still funny. The writing is still based in reality (well, the not-zombie bits, anyway). And, perhaps most importantly for this particular holiday, the relationships are what matter most.
Speaking of relationships, one of the great things in this film is that Shaun himself isn’t going to make you look bad by comparison. He’s a bit of a loser. He can’t quite remember to do those little things that women (and plenty of men, of course) find so endearing — things like remembering to make reservations for a big date, or not trying to pass off flowers he bought for his mom as a gift for his girl. (Seriously dudes, do not do this — she’ll be super pissed when she reads the card.) He’s also a paunchy, slightly goofy ginger whose best feature is an endearing grin. Compared to the suave, square-jawed protagonists in most romantic films, you’re going to look pretty decent. And if you’re a woman reading this, the same can be said, in essence, for his girl Liz — she’s lovely and a decent woman, but you’re not going to suffer in comparison like you would next to someone like Angelina Jolie.
Nor is their relationship going to have you wondering “Why can’t something like this happen to me?” Even setting aside the zombie apocalypse, the portrayal of the relationship between Shaun and Liz is anything but the typical meet-cute nonsense that propels so many rom-coms. Just the opposite, in fact — you have an all-too familiar take on the settled, comfortable slow-burn that characterizes almost all real-life relationships. He takes her for granted, and though it’s not quite as obvious to anyone nor as egregious, she does the same to him. They fight. They break up. It takes the near-end of the world to throw them back together — his big romantic gesture involves not a boombox serenade outside her window, but an ill-advised “rescue” that shows that, yes, he is a jackass, but he is undoubtedly a jackass that is well and truly in love with her and dedicated to her happiness. And really, isn’t that all that any of really need to be happy? A fellow jackass to share the stupidity of life with, and maybe to help us fortify our favorite pub if and when the zombies show up?
With that beautiful, understated love story at its core, and a delightful looking multi-course meal complete with delicious beer thrown in, this Valentine’s Day you could do a lot worse than embracing the real-life love and geek-friendly zombie apocalypse of Shaun of the Dead. Just remember some flowers — not the kind your mom would like, mind you — and keep your lover close just in case the zombies do show up, and you’ll be set for a Valentine’s to remember.
The food and film start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 14 at the Alamo Drafthouse. Tickets are $50. For more info and to buy tickets, visit the Shaun of the Dead beer dinner event page.