Zombieland provides some of this year’s best pure entertainment

Posted on 04 October 2009 by ShepRamsey

I’m not sure where to start on Zombieland.  It’s one of those movies that there really isn’t much you can say about it.  It exists for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to be good solid adrenaline-pumping laugh-out-loud entertainment.  zombieland_ver2So the only fit way to write a review about it would seem to be to identify whether or not it accomplishes said task.  The answer?  Oh, hell yes!

Zombieland is a terrific bookend to this year’s earlier excellent horror-comedy, Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell.  Both films are brisk, loud, fun, and wildly hilarious.  But where Drag Me to Hell spoke with a voice of pure horror, Zombieland is cut more from the cloth of comedy, not unlike Shaun of the Dead.  Its comedy comes from its living characters, and the sometimes massively bizarre situations that they find themselves in.

Our lead character is the squirrely-yet-strong Columbus (anonymously named such, taken from his hometown).  He is played by Jesse Eisenberg, starring in his second “land” movie of the year, after April’s Adventureland.

Many are referring to Eisenberg as the “poor man’s Michael Cera,” or some kind of title to that effect, as he’s got the same sort of timid/awkward demeanor that popularized the Superbad star.  But need I remind the world that Eisenberg has been making a name for himself as far back as 2002’s Roger Dodger, and the widely acclaimed The Squid and the Whale, long before anyone knew who the hell Michael Cera was.  Personally, I like Eisenberg a bit more than Cera—I find his take on the shtick more sympathetic and believable.  He just seems more mature, which I guess makes sense, as he’s five years older.

But enough of that.  It all goes to say how much I really love the casting of Eisenberg in this role.  In the opening sequence of the film, Columbus introduces us to his list of rules for surviving an America in which zombies (the Zack Snyder running kind) are now the dominant species.  He walks us through a few and it becomes very apparent how each and every one of these would most assuredly come in handy.  Then we cut to the extremely-extremely-slow-motion zombie-attack opening credits montage, set to my all-time favorite Metallica song, “ZOMBIELANDFor Whom the Bell Tolls.”  Right off the bat, this movie won a special place in my heart.

We then watch Columbus, as he travels through the isolated roads of the titular Zombieland, wondering if he’s the only person left alive.  His question is soon answered, when he meets up with a tough badass, who goes by the name of Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson).  They have a very funny face-off, upon meeting each other, which serves as a terrific testament to the power of silence in comedy.

Hitting the road together, Tallahassee soon finds Columbus’s strict adherence to rules and protocol consistently annoying.  After not too long, they run across con-sisters Wichita (Emma Stone from Superbad) and Little Rock (Little Miss Sunshine Oscar-nominee Abigail Breslin) in an abandoned supermarket, while searching for the possibility of a box of Twinkies.

I’ve spent a good deal of time giving a rundown on the plot of the movie, but there really isn’t much of a “plot” to speak of.  There’s no pressing conflict in this film.  The zombies are introduced in the beginning of the film as a given, so there isn’t any revolution to be had or horrible force to overcome.  It’s basically just a fun character-driven road trip movie.  With zombies.

Everyone in the movie accepts the situation and they’re all trying to make the best of it.  And boy, do they ever!  When they make a stop in Hollywood, it sets up a sequence of the film that is one of the best, funniest, and most unbelievably strange cameos thaZOMBIELANDt I’ve ever seen in any movie.  Even if you were to hate the rest of the movie (which I just can’t imagine) this segment alone should be worth the price of your admission.

But, like I said, there’s nothing much to really say about.  It’s a critic-proof kind of movie, like Snakes on a Plane or any one of the Tyler Perry movies.  It’s the kind of thing that, had it not been so well-directed, well-acted, and very, very funny, then it probably wouldn’t have been screened for critics.  There’s nothing to take away from it, no weight, no message, or anything like that—and that’s just what makes it work.  This movie is an insanely short 80 minutes long, and the end credits start rolling at around one hour and fifteen minutes.  It’s a quick burn of clever, fun, and thoroughly wild entertainment.

That being said, you really have no reason to not see this movie.  So, go right now, friends, because we all have stress and aggravation in our daily lives, and I really think this ought to help.                           

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