Zombieland (2009)


By now I’m sure you’ve heard all of the hype centering around the new Zombedy starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg.  With it’s mix of gruesome undead action and whip smart sense of humor, some are even saying it’s America’s answer to Shaun of the Dead.  At the end of the day, does Zombieland live up to all the praise?  FUCK YEAH!

If the title sounds like some bad ass amusement park equipped with an onslaught of  carnage and laughs that you’ve only ever dreamed of, that’s because it is.  In the course of the fast paced 80 minute runtime, Zombieland takes you up, down and around like a fucking pin wheel as if you were on some gruesomely boisterous roller coaster.  Since any back story takes place in brief flashbacks or quick narrations, we’re immediately thrown into the post apocalyptic United States.  The living have all but vanished as the undead run rampant across the country, all because of a hamburger with mad cow disease…which turned into mad human disease…which in return became mad zombie disease.

Jesse Eisenberg is Columbus.  In basically the same character he played in the ill fated Cursed, he’s the total socially retarded college kid that has probably never even had some frottage with a girl, let alone slept with one.   On his way to find his family, he teams up with Tallahassee.  Tallahassee, as played by Woody Harrelson, has come here to chew scenery and kick ass, and by the end of film (you guessed it) he’s almost all out of scenery.  On their zombie travels, they run into Superbad’s mega hottie Emma Stone and her 12 year old sister, Little Miss Sunshine’s Abigail Breslin.

Since almost all of humanity is now extinct, we’re with these four characters for the bulk of the film, and lousy or miscasted acting could have destroyed it.  Thankfully each actor pulls off their rolls fairly flawlessly.  Harrelson hasn’t had this much fun on screen since King Pin.  And speaking of King Pin, his co star Bill Murray makes one helluva great cameo as himself, which almost makes you forgive him for Garfield: A Tale of to Kitties.  Also worth mentioning is the sexcellent Mandy Lane herself, Amber Heard, in a brief yet memorable role as Eisenberg’s dorm neighbor.

Last week I mentioned in my Jennifer’s Body review how I wished the director would have had a lot more fun with the material.  Well, the same definitely does not go here for Ruben Fleischer.  Making his big screen feature length debut, Fleischer never lets you off the ride and fills each scene with equal amounts of brain splatters and laughs.  While the film is clearly meant for laughs, never once does it veer off into spoof humor, which is its greatest achievement.

The screenplay, by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, is filled with clever one-liners and strong set pieces, especially the third act amusement park.  One of the film’s most memorable elements is the rules to surviving the zombie apocalypse, which are always reappearing on the screen for those who may have forgotten.  While this is Wernick’s first film writing credit, I’ve seen the name Rhett Reese before…as the man who penned Cruel Intentions 3.   We all have to start somewhere and I give the man credit.  He wrote a couple less than stellar films to build a resume and pay the bills until something came along where he could shine.  Happens to the best of us. 

There’s not much fault to find in this movie, but if I had to point something out, it would be the lack of zombies populating Zombieworld.  While there’s plenty of zombie-eatage and a plethora of undead carnage going on during the finale, the streets are almost always completely void of the living dead.  Do they hide in caves like those godawful CGI messes from that wretched I Am Legend movie?  Again, minor detail, but something that stood out.

Zombieland is to horror comedies as Amber Heard is to horny teenage boys who watch horror comedies.  A Godsend.
Zombieland is to horror comedies as Amber Heard is to horny teenage boys who watch horror comedies. A Godsend.