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The Dead Don't Die
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Dead Don't Die is an all-star zombie comedy from indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. Expect extreme zombie-related blood and gore, including torn-open corpses, chewing, blood spurts, spilled guts, dead bodies, guns and shooting, zombies sliced with a sword, and more. Language is also strong, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. A naked female zombie appears; her bare bottom is shown. Women are briefly objectified, and one young woman is shown bending over in short-shorts. A zombie character is referred to as an alcoholic who chants "chardonnay" over and over; another zombie chants "oxy." Many brands are referenced or shown, but mainly as commentary on consumerism, rather than in a promotional sense. Many viewers' interest may well be piqued by the popular cast (which includes Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Selena Gomez, and more), but only a few -- especially those familiar with Jarmusch's deadpan, sardonic humor -- will really click with this wonderfully weird movie.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE DEAD DON'T DIE, small-town police officers Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) notice that the sun isn't setting as the hour grows late. A radio report talks about the possible effects that polar fracking has had on the earth's rotation. Then, as night finally falls, two zombies appear, entering the diner and killing two women there. The police, accompanied by officer Mindy Morrison (Chloë Sevigny), investigate the carnage and are left puzzled. More strange events occur, including the disappearance of various animals. When night comes again, more zombies emerge, and the three officers prepare to do battle, aided by the town's mysterious new samurai sword-wielding mortician, Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton). As the heroes make their way to the cemetery, it becomes apparent that there's more to this strange story than meets the eye.
Is it any good?
While this all-star, deadpan zombie comedy won't appeal to everyone, its wry commentary and postmodern goodness make it ideal for fans of sardonic writer/director Jim Jarmusch. The horror genre may seem like the total opposite of Jarmusch's style, but The Dead Don't Die is nonetheless a strange delight, a fitting companion piece to Jarmusch's angsty vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive. Most of the movie's incredible cast have worked with Jarmusch before, and they seem to be having laid-back fun; none of the characters gets terribly frazzled by the zombie attacks. But the film's low-key humor will definitely fall flat for those who aren't already attuned to the filmmaker's offbeat rhythms.
Miraculously, Jarmusch manages to have his brains and eat them, too, effortlessly combining political jokes with self-referential ones. Radio chats about "polar fracking" eerily mirror today's style of political debates, and the zombies have a funny consumerist streak. Meanwhile, a character runs a horror movie memorabilia shop out of the local gas station, and the theme song by Sturgill Simpson is available on CD, even as the movie is happening. The Dead Don't Die offers a few more truly bizarre surprises as things go on, as well as plenty of laughs. Viewers shouldn't expect anything like Ghostbusters or Groundhog Day, but die-hard, deep-dive Murray fans will find much to treasure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of horror movies?
Why do you think zombies are so popular? What's interesting or scary about them? What do they have to say about who we are as humans?
The movie refers to "polar fracking." What does this mean? What are the arguments for and against it in the movie? How do these things apply to real life?
How does the movie depict its racist character? Does he seem like a real person? What's the definition of "caricature," and what purpose does it serve?
- In theaters: June 14, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: September 10, 2019
- Cast: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton
- Director: Jim Jarmusch
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: zombie violence/gore, and for language
- Last updated: May 30, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.