All over the world there are screenwriters toiling away at their keyboards, each desperately racing to finish the next big Michael Cera comedy vehicle. The writers of Zombieland were definitely the former, but sadly Cera was not available. Luckily for everyone, Jesse Eisenberg (the thinking man’s Michael Cera?) was available and Zombieland is much better off for it. It’s no Shaun of the Dead, but the film is a hilarious and ultra violent trip through the zombie apocalypse.
Zombieland begins shortly after virus has turned nearly everyone in North America into zombies. We meet a lone survivor, Columbus; not his real name, but everyone goes by the name of the city they’re headed to. Columbus is a nerdy guy who has survived up until now thanks to a strict set of rules. Taking liberal nods from Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide, we are quickly introduced to several of these rules, most notably “Beware of bathrooms“, “Always check the backseat” and “Enjoy the little things“. Columbus soon meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a hick with a real knack for killing zombies, a penchant for twinkies and a love for NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, painting the number 3 on whatever car he’s driving at the time. Columbus and Tallahassee make an unlikely pair but manage to get by; that is until they have an unfortunate run in with two young women, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who also happen to be con artists. After several tense confrontations between the two groups, they decide that sticking together is probably their best option. From here the group travels to Los Angeles, to an amusement park said to be the last zombie free area on the continent.
Zombieland is a very entertaining film. It’s funny and action packed, exactly what you want in a movie like this. The film has plenty of great zombie kills and one-liners, add to that one of the most unexpected and hilarious cameos by a major Hollywood actor and you have the recipe for a really fun movie. However, Zombieland isn’t a satire of the zombie movie in the same way Shaun of the Dead was. Sure, it pokes fun at the tropes of the genre, but the film is a straight zombie movie, albeit a very funny one. Harrelson makes the movie by playing a redneck-with-a-heart-of-gold so well. As for the others, Eisenberg’s geeky charm gets him through pitched battles with zombie hordes just as well as awkward encounters with the opposite sex. Emma Stone, who this reviewer has had a crush on since Superbad, plays a very believable con artist and shotgun toting heroine. Abigail Breslin doesn’t really say much, but she delivers some chuckles and a few very awesome zombie kills. They aren’t quite the foursome from the popular zombie game Left 4 Dead, but I’d expect to see a Zombieland mod any day now.
This October you get to choose your movie apocalypse: there’s the bleak and depressing, baby-eating The Road; or the fun and action packed, undead fraggin’ Zombieland. Keep in mind these aren’t Romero’s undead; these are the crazed, sprinting 28 Days Later kind of zombie. However, no matter which kind of zombie you prefer, if you love the genre, then you’re going to enjoy Zombieland. If Judd Apatow and company were to make a zombie movie, this would be it.