Review: “Zombieland”

So I finally got around to seeing “Zombieland”, in which Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg do battle with hordes of undead as well as Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin (in a road trip only marginally less strange than the one she took in “Little Miss Sunshine”). As you probably know from the trailers, Woody and Jesse have much more success against the zombies than against the girls.

I’ve seen a lot of suggestions that “Zombieland” is the American answer to “Shaun of the Dead”, and while it does not reach the absurd comic heights of “Shaun”, it does make a good effort. The most amusing aspect of “Zombieland” is Eisenberg’s “rules” for surviving in a zombie-infested America. These rules are similar to, but different from, the rules that can be found in The Zombie Survival Guide. In particular, Eisenberg ignores my favorite piece of advice from the ZSG: “Blades don’t need reloading.” However, he adds a few important ones that the ZSG lacks, such as “Cardio” and, of course, the “Double-Tap”, which should be de rigueur for anyone in a horror film. In any case, a combination of both sets of rules will probably give you the best chance of survival when the zombie apocalypse begins; but I digress.

“Zombieland” is essentially a comic/action road/buddy picture, a la “Midnight Run” or “The Blues Brothers”, only with flesh-eating freaks instead of mobsters or hordes of police and goose-stepping neo-Nazis in pursuit. A lot has been made of the big celebrity cameo in “Zombieland” — too much, perhaps. I found it funny, but not as funny as, say, Bob Barker’s cameo in “Happy Gilmore”. (Note that I am not saying “Happy Gilmore” is a better movie than “Zombieland”. It isn’t. But that Bob Barker cameo was hilarious.) The cameo comes off as a bit of a gimmick, whereas the interplay and dialogue among the main characters is well done, especially in a scene where they are trading off driving duties and we are treated to snippets of conversations, especially Breslin’s character attempting to explain Hannah Montana to Harrelson. Harrelson’s Tallahassee, incidentally, is far and away the best character in the movie, with the best arc; during the final act in The Amusement Park Formerly Known As Pacific Playland (*cough* TAFKAP *cough*), he engages in a running gun battle with a most enormous mob of zombies that simply must be seen to be believed. Sorry, Shaun, but come the zombie apocalypse, I would rather hang out with Tallahassee than with you. No offense.

My wife refused to get anywhere near “Zombieland” and so was already asleep when I started watching it. Technically this means it put her to sleep in zero minutes, according to my usual scale. I suspect she would have enjoyed some of it (she liked “Shaun of the Dead”, believe it or not), but I made the mistake of showing her what turned out to be the “red band” trailer, which made the movie look gorier than it was. (Not that it wasn’t gory, but it wasn’t THAT gory.) I think she tuned out of the trailer around the time that Eisenberg’s zombified hottie neighbor poked her tongue through the shower curtain he was using to restrain her and yakked blood all over him. I guess I can’t blame her. (My wife, I mean, not the zombified hottie neighbor. Although I suppose technically I can’t blame the neighbor, either, on account of she was, well, a zombie.)

Don’t forget to vote for the next scene of the month! I know I was a bit of a tease with the werewolf interlude in the last excerpt from The Wolf, but trust me, we are closing in on some serious lycanthropic mayhem if The Wolf keeps winning!

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