Like any proper spoof (not like Date/Scary/Epic/Dance Movies, actual
spoof), Zombieland serves also as an example of the genre it’s
spoofing. Unlike the inevitable comparison with the British Shaun of
the Dead, this movie feels less like a spoof and more like a
straightforward zombie movie with just some comedy thrown in. Zombie
movies already have some comedy in them, so the line between the
“serious ones” and this one is fine indeed. It’s funny, but it’s not
outrageous or satirical or genre-skewering or anything like that.
It’s more acerbic and snappy.
Told mainly from the perspective of Jesse Eisenberg’s character
“Columbus” (as in the destination in Ohio), we learn how a skinny,
neurotic drink of water like him has managed to be one of the few
survivors left after a truly cataclysmic spread of undeaditude. In
fact, our young lead’s reliance on the hard and true rules of
surviving a zombiepocalypse are pretty much what anyone his age or a
bit older (like, Woody Harrelson’s age) would already take as read as
how one would survive. Like Jamie Kennedy in Scream, Eisenberg sticks
to the basic principles and they work. His survival is thorough and
long-standing, more routine than terrifying at the point we join his
story. Throughout the movie, Eisenberg explains the various rules he
adheres to, which are then amusingly graphically presented and used as
visual punctuation whenever employed.
Naturally, others have survived by less meticulous but no less
effective means. He runs into the wonderfully over the top Woody
Harrelson, gleefully massacring his way across the country to find a
Twinkie. (It is funny to see Mr. Hemp and Compost firing a huge gun
out of a Hummer.) They later meet Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin,
jaded streetwise urchins all. They make their way through distrust
and moaning hordes to a huge set-piece finale, a hyperbolic spree
seemingly created as the central point of Zombieland. In fact, the
movie’s title and its focus on this climax makes me believe that the
whole movie was created just to bring us to the carnival of carnage.
Spoiler alert: zombies get blowed up real good.
Eisenberg’s character from Adventureland is now in Zombieland, with
only the wisdom of his numerous near-brushes with death. I almost
didn’t recognize Stone; she was a sexy teen vixen in Superbad, a
hopelessly tremulous nerd in House Bunny, and now she’s a cavalier
cool chick here. It’s funny/sad that her resume, if viewed by someone
who had seen none of these movies, makes her look like a B-Movie
bimbo. Stone’s chameleonic comedic capacity, her hot-yet-accessible
appearance, and the fact that all three of those movies were surprise
critical and audience hits — all this tells me that she’s in for the
Harrelson is playing to his go-to tough redneck type, but with a comic
edge and a truly creatively brutal side. If the mayhem weren’t
against voracious undead cannibals, it would be disturbing. As it is,
it’s pretty much videogame level appreciation of the novelties of
application and the unapologetic hyperbole. And finally (well, not
finally, but we’ll leave that last survivor as a delicious marshmallow
surprise) we have precocious angel Abigail Breslin. Always acting
beyond her age, she’s one of the few 12 year-olds who can possibly
pull off her character’s deeply-ingrained cynicism and instincts. I
got flashes of her in Signs and Little Miss Sunshine while she rolled
her eyes at a poorly executed kill. Adorable.
Zombieland is a road movie, a little meta-commentary on zombie movie
mayhem, and an extremely violent and pretty funny comedy. Come on,
zombies, what more do you need?
MPAA Rating R – zombie horror violence/gore and language.
Release date 10/2/09
Time in minutes 82
Director Ruben Fleischer
Studio Columbia TriStar