A Note From Buzz: With so many new movies this week, my friend Très was nice enough to apply her scary-movie expertise to review the box office's newest zombie flick.
In the United States of Zombieland, zombies outnumber people. A mad-cow tainted burger tipped the population in favor of the drooling, limping, and grunting set, and now zombies roam a crashed-car littered, empty-minimall-blighted zombiescape.
Columbus (Adventureland's Jesse Eisenberg), the virginal antihero of horror-comedy Zombieland, has learned to survive this zombie apocalypse by keeping a list of necessary survival skills. Rule #1? Cardio. If you don't want zombies gnawing on you like an hors d'oeuvre, you'd better be fast and limber. In addition, beware of bathrooms, practice the "double tap" (make sure your zombie's actually dead after you kill him), and don't be a hero. (Regarding this last rule — some rules were made to be broken.)
When Columbus meets up with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a swaggering cowboy type with a penchant for tank-like cars, shotguns, and Twinkies, and the spitfire sister duo of Wichita (Emma Stone) and Arkansas (Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin), Zombieland takes off like a scary/fun amusement park ride. To find out what happens on this motley crew's wild road trip from hell, read more
There's something funny about zombies and the zombie genre, and in his first feature film, director Ruben Fleischer plays their comic possibilities to the hilt. Zombies don't have what you'd call well-rounded personalities; they're pretty predictable. They have bad attitudes, come out of nowhere, grunt, and see all nonzombies as food to feast on. They're the perfect foil (or straight men, even) to a cast of characters with more than enough personality to make up for the zombies' boorish one dimensionality.
Take nebbishy Columbus. The world changed for him, he tells us in an early voice-over, when a pretty neighbor he calls #406, asks to stay over because a crazed homeless man tries to bite her. Sadly, although she falls asleep on Columbus's shoulder, she wakes up as a rabid zombie and begins chasing him around his apartment, forcing him to repeatedly knock her over the head with a toilet lid. "The first time I let a girl in my life," deadpans Columbus, "and she tries to eat me."
This kind of witty dialogue abounds in Zombieland, and although fans of gore and violence against zombies will be more than satisfied (Tallahassee's scenes of zombie-killing, especially, have a Tarantinoesque choreography to them), it's really the mismatched goofball characters and how they bond and evolve, surprisingly, that hold the film together. A hilarious cameo from Bill Murray in the Beverly Hills sequence of Zombieland, also, is practically worth the price of admission.
Harrelson chews the scenery as Tallahassee, but as we find out, part of the reason he's hell-bent on killing zombies is because they took away his baby boy. As for the sisters, tough-girl Wichita just wants to take care of her little sister Arkansas (who, as a good shot, doesn't seem to need much help), but a beautiful girl has needs, too, and before long she develops feelings for Columbus. Will he or won't he finally be able to live out his nerd-boy fantasy of brushing the hair over a girl's ear?
You probably know the answer to that question, but just because Zombieland adheres to certain formulas doesn't mean that it doesn't revive them in witty ways. Although the zombie-killing gore fest may not be for everyone, Zombieland's amazing visuals, charming characters, and witty dialogue may leave a goofy grin on your face as you leave the theater.
Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures