They’re Coming To Get You, Woody!!
Blood! Gore! Guns! Zombies! Do I have your attention yet? Well, if you’re part of the audience Zombieland is after, I had you at Blood. Gallons of the gooey stuff are splattered across the screen in debuting director Ruben Fleischer’s satisfying, tongue-in-cheek, undead comedy romp. Is it flawless? Of course not. But just sit back and enjoy the bullet-riddled ride.
The Zombie Apocalypse has happened. The world as we know it has been overrun by flesh-eating freaks. Cities are deserted, weapons and cars are plentiful and don’t cost a penny, and the last few living members of society just want to kill zombies and have a good time. That’s the setup. Typical if you’re a zombie fan. This is when we meet Columbus (the reliably good Jesse Eisenberg). He’s a modern fanboy stereotype: a World of Warcraft-playing, friendless, shut-in nerd. As luck would have it, not going outside much is great for surviving a zombie outbreak, but sooner or later the human residents of Zombieland have to hit the road, and he’s developed a set of his own rules for keeping the flesh munchers at bay. “Rule #2: Beware of bathrooms” or “Rule #18: Limber up”. These funny little tidbits are stamped on screen in a number of great little episodes, though their near incessant repetition throughout the movie make them grow tired and annoying after too long.
Enter Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson, having one hell of a good time), the zombie-killing, booze-swilling badass who takes Columbus on a wild madcap quest for the one last thing that can bring him joy in the world: a Hostess Twinkie. Seeing Harrelson blast, smash, shoot and chop the undead in his cowboy hat and sunglasses is a gore fan’s wet dream. With a crazed glint in his eye, Harrelson attacks this role with the same humor, verve, and zest that we have only seen in his best performances.
Soon, our ghoul-slaying odd couple stumbles upon sisters Wichita (hottie Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Little Miss Sunshine herself, Abigail Breslin). They’re on their way to a Los Angeles theme park so Little Rock can have one last chance to be a kid again. And so, our four protagonist stereotypes are off on a fun filled, hack n’ slash zombie road trip which culminates in what is possibly one of the best, funniest, biggest movie star cameos ever. If you know who it is, don’t you dare ruin it. It’s ten minutes of pure hilarity thanks to one of the screen’s most beloved figures.
What’s frustrating about this movie is that there a number of things that keep it from measuring up to, say, Shaun Of The Dead (the zombie comedy that set the standard back in ’04). It’s just too self aware (pop culture references abound) and gimmicky (characters being named after their destinations) to really have a lasting impact. And the sometimes clunky, overly cheesy dialogue definitely detracts from the enjoyment. Throw in the shoehorned-in sentiment and a plot that’s a bit too predictable and you have a film that fails to reach it’s full potential. This combination of factors ultimately makes the film feel thin and a bit forgettable. But my guess is, if you’ve plunked down your hard earned cash for this one, these things simply won’t matter. You’ll be too busy laughing.
What makes this popcorn flick a lot of fun is that, overall, it knows what it is and never tries to go beyond that. It’s just a good ‘ol blood and guts horror/comedy crowd-pleaser. It’s not high art, nor is it trying to be. It’s got enough solid laughs, cool special effects, and awesome zombie action to keep any one who just wants to have a good time at the movies happy. So, go see Zombieland if you’ve got some time to kill. Just remember to aim for the head.
- Adam Fiske
October 3, 2009