Release Date: October 2nd, 2009 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Ruben Fleischer Actors: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard
ombies seem to be the recent creature of choice for everything from bloody horror to romantic comedy. “Zombieland” knows this, and wisely opts to bypass the bothersome territory of explanation and resolution of the ill-fated condition – to focus solely on the unexpected hilarity that arises, and the subsequent sadistic fun of exterminating the undead masses. Losing the typical scares is more refreshing than disappointing as the comedy stays clever and witty throughout; the whole wild ride never dips into depressing seriousness or blatant reality (except for one major cameo). Though the story of finding family and Twinkies amidst the zombie-infested wastelands of the world is hardly dull, the steady attention to a series of fantastically escalating dismemberments does divulge the film’s true intentions. But it’ll be a long time before watching zombie evisceration loses its entertainment value.
In a world ravaged by zombies, young loner, unlikely survivor, and virginal shut-in “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg) overcomes his fears and extreme surroundings by following a strict list of survival rules (including regular cardio, never skimping on bullets to the head, and avoiding bathrooms). Columbus soon learns that rules were meant to be broken when he finds himself entangled in the lives of “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson), a hardened traveler and expert zombie killer, and beautiful con artist “Wichita” (Emma Stone) and her twelve-year-old accomplice “Little Rock” (Abigail Breslin). Now, as he heads to California, caught up in his newfound friends’ bizarre quests for Twinkies and zombie-free amusement parks, Columbus might just find the “family” he’s always been looking for.
“Zombieland” sports the same appeal as “Dawn of the Dead,” although the distinguishing level of horror has been almost completely replaced with humor. Lone warriors trapped in the harsh environment of big city ruins allows for total freedom, no rules, and adventurous endurance tactics that inspire fantasy and mischievousness. The desolation and isolation are still marginally scary, but the nonstop rollercoaster (literally) thrills and unadulterated, cutthroat comedy is a captivating combination.
The setup is quick and simple, attributing the plague of the 21st century to an unexplained virus. Since the search for a cure or a solution to the zombification of the world is never even hinted at, the film doesn’t have to spend precious time suspending disbelief. The zombie-filled cities are merely a backdrop for an epic hunt for a Twinkie, and the understanding and acceptance of a dire situation. With countless activities to do in “Zombieland,” diabolically funny escapades run amok, complete with spectacular gore, creative cursing, outrageous slow-motion ransacking, a modest amount of romance, and a tour of the palatial Bill Murray estate.
– The Massie Twins