I’m guessing you all know of Zombieland even if somehow you have managed to avoid seeing it, but what is this movie actually about and what is all the fuss?
Doing for zombie films what scream did for slashers (only better), Zombieland introduces us to its lead character – nerdy and timid college student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network, Now you see me) and his rules to survival such as the double tap and beware of bathrooms. Coming from a dysfunction and distant family unit, Columbus has been making his way home after a particularly scary incident with his insanely hot neighbour.
On his trek down a dilapidated highway he comes across zombie hating, ass-kicking Tallahassee, perfectly played by Woody Harrelson (Cheers, Natural Born Killers) who agrees to give him a lift part way back to Columbus, Ohio, hence the character name.
Along the way they run into a pair of sisters with serious trust issues (Bug eyed Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) who are dealing with their own trauma’s as they seek to get to Pacific Playland, the only zombie free place west of Waco, and have one last time where young Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) can act her age and be a kid just once more.
Finally, there is also an amazing cameo which, if you haven’t seen the film, I won’t spoil but for people of my age I share Tallahassee’s enthusiasm for meeting him and it is a genius comic turn that genuinely adds to the film rather than just being a blink and you miss it moment.
But what about the zombies I hear you moan? Looking like a cross between the wretched deadites in the Evil Dead series and the zombies from Zac Synder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, they do look disgusting and considering they are not the main focus of the film the make-up crew have done an exceptional job and deserve a lot of credit, just a shame they are not centre stage but to be fair that would have thrown the whole dynamic off and turned this into a completely different movie.
It is hard to believe that this is Ruben Fleischer’s debut full length, such is the confidence that flows through this film from the fantastic visual Fx from the very beginning to the almost perfect pacing of the scenes, and all this accentuated by an extremely funny plot and some great performances where even the often annoying Jesse Eisenberg is on top form.
Built around a strong spine of humour which runs through a love story and an absurd sub-plot regarding Tallahassee’s quest for a Twinkie, this is essentially a quirky comedy masquerading as a zombie film but somehow it works on both levels and fans of either or both won’t be disappointed.
However, for all the great directing and writing, and it is great writing with some real character development and background, although in some cases this needed to be fleshed out a little more, the Indian store destruction scenes just scream 80s comedy homage and its construction seem out of place to the rest of the film and while it serves to reinforce one of the rules it could have been handled in a way much more coherent with the rest of the film.
My other gripes are only minor, the first being that the zombies sprint in these films, they are still extremely stupid but just fast, but that’s personal opinion as I am generally a Romero zombie man, but for horror-comedies like this and Return of the Living Dead I can cut it a little slack as this isn’t a film that takes itself serious and intend to be a significant contribution to the genre, besides this film isn’t really about the zombies. Shock I know, but they are merely an inconvenience and perhaps that is why the film works so well as an engaging comedy, as the zombies themselves become part of the punch lines. Now onto my second issue, Emma Stone’s bug eyes trying to escape from her head, how does she keep getting so many love interest roles? Interestingly, Ruben Fleischer cast her in another similar role in his recent Gangster Squad movie, odd choice but that is a topic for another rant.
All in all, this is a movie that everyone can enjoy, regardless of if they are a zombie fan or not and the cameo is just spot on, especially for a person of my generation.