Reviewed by Nomad
Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Amber Heard, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
In our wide world of horror there has been no shortage of films about the terminally hungry undead. We’ve had tales of love and loss, comedies and those purporting to be, serious apocalyptic dramas, pseudo-political pieces and … whatever it is the Day of the Dead movies are. There is no end in sight so as Hollywood churns out their dead, it becomes less about original ideas and more about execution. Zombieland is most definitely not re-inventing the wheel, but I can say with no hesitation that it’s the funniest zombie tale since Shaun of the Dead.
Zombieland is the story of the broken survivors of an undead Armageddon. It is also the tale of a life not yet lived until everyone else has died. Lucky for us, very little time is spent on these deep, dramatic themes and emo sentimentality. In its place we get pure, unadulterated zombie killing bliss wrapped up in what can only be described as a parody of your basic coming of age teen comedy. Ohio (Eisenberg) is the prerequisite teen, so named for his desired destination. It’s Ohio who introduces us to the remnants of this decimated civilization, kicking things off with valuable tips to surviving any zombie encounter. Yes, those survival guide tips you are seeing in the commercials ARE in the movie. This proves an excellent way of showing glimpses of the world going to hell and includes one of the best title sequence montages since The Watchmen. I know I’m dishing out some seriously high praise, but it is well deserved. Trust me … or don’t. You know you are all going to see this yourselves anyway!
Ohio makes a beeline for his parent’s home when he runs into the mighty, mighty Tallahasse (Harrelson), who excels in zombie decimation while he scours the earth for his favorite snack cake. Destruction is his business, and to borrow a phrase from the Basterd Pitt, business is a’boomin! Soon the odd couple are joined by two more travelers (one of them being a hotty for Ohio), and the rest of the tale is elementary. Zombies attack and meet a squishy end, Ohio and his hotty flirt with love, hilarity ensues. As they make their way across the US, Tallahasse teaches the band that the world they knew is gone so it’s best to work out those frustrations any way possible, whether that be on abandoned cars, supermarkets, and of course, the cranium of a charging zombie. Some may still be staunch believers that fast zombies suck, but who cares? It’s not like we are getting prolonged chase scenes. When the Z boys come running, heads explode. What more do you need?
Comedic timing is near perfection in Zombieland, backing up the obvious fun of human-on-zombie violence with many a moment of gut busting hilarity. It can be as simple as an awkward or dorky conversation or as surprising as one particular scene in which the crew take refuge in a much unexpected location, providing the most insanely hysterical scene of the film. It’s one of those moments where people will say, “It was worth it just for that scene.” Woody Harrelson proves he’s still got the chops to leave us in stitches if he’s given the opportunity to shine while Jesse Eisenberg will most likely be described as “like that kid from Juno and Year One … only funny.” It’s boyish/geeky charm alongside the badass yet vulnerable killing machine who is just a bit dim. When the party is joined by home town bad girl Wichita and her sister Little Rock, we’ve got a dysfunctional family for the world’s end. You’ll love every second of it.
Some films would be content to strike the perfect mix of comedy and above average zombie effects, but Zombieland adds another dimension with just the right amount of back story for each character. These scenes remind us of the tragedy of their situation, eliciting everything from a chuckle to an awww to a downright yank on your heart strings. The dramatic elements are never overly milked and strike just the right chords, complementing the scenes they piggyback like a snug-fitting puzzle piece.
It’s a joy to watch a film that seems to get everything right, has an audience howling with laughter to the point where you have to struggle to hear the lines that follow a gag, and STILL provides some extra gory eye candy for the horror fan who said, “You had me at Zombie.” The running undead look fantastic and are dispatched in a never-ending, ever-evolving innovative shopping list of carnage. You’ll applaud every crunch. Zombieland is a killer comedy with a vicious sense of humor. It’s the kind of movie where, halfway through, you’ll wish you already owned the DVD. Grab six horror-starved friends and meet me at the movies for opening night. It’s time we made a deserving film #1!
5 out of 5
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