Movies: Zombieland

…directed by Ruben Fleischer, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin.  Zombieland is a light-hearted buddy comedy about the eventual Zombie apocalypse that will consume us all.  It begins with the standard zombie premise with which we’ve grown accustomed – a horrible viral infection turns people into ravening beasts and all hell breaks loose.  We learn from our narrator Columbus (Eisenberg) the rules to surviving in Zombieland, including 1) cardio, 2) the double-tab, and 3) seatbelts.

Columbus, it turns out, is the kind of young guy with a lengthy list of phobias and a penchant for World of Warcraft.  This actually serves him well, because he’s so cautious and paranoid he’s managed to avoid most of the mistakes that seem to have befallen the rest of the populace.  When he meets up with Tallahassee (Harrelson), he find a complete opposite in nearly every trait.  Tallahassee is fearless, somewhat careless, and an absolute zombie-crushing machine.  It’s your standard end-of-days odd couple, and fortunately for the viewer, the two actors have a good sense of timing and chemistry.

The two men soon meet up with a young woman called Witchita (Stone) and her twelve-year-old sister, Little Rock (Breslin).  These ladies eventually convince  the crew to head for L.A. (why anyone would want to go to an urban area in a true zombie infestation is beyond me).  

It’s a fairly standard zombie-flick plot.  Survivors looking for someplace safe and trying to retain some humanity.  But Zombieland shies away from any of the more serious themes of post-apocalyptic fiction at every turn.  It’s mostly a set-up for gross-out gags, gleeful violence, and jokes.  And that’s just fine with me.  The timing is good, the writing incorporates just enough geek reference and general  zombie knowledge (the writers and director are obviously big fans of the sub-genre), and the horror action is just over-the-top gross enough to keep you wincing.  You don’t need a lot of soul-searching or judgement-day ruminations if you can remain true to the core value of horror/comedy – especially if your two stars have the kind of  rapport and timing of Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg.  The movie even has a hilarious special guest star.

One day they’ll make the serious zombie movie the hardcore fans have been clamoring for.  That movie will take place months or even years after the initial zombie outbreak and focus on the survivors – how they’ve survived, retained a measure of humanity, and dealt with the guilt of losing loved ones and society in general.  This movie will sort of resemble Max Brooks’ World War Z or Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead with more focus and narrative direction.  Until that day, at least we have a good comedy like Zombieland. Highly recommended for people who are down with the flesh-eating hijinks.  If you’re not down, well, read the poster…


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