The film establishes its “zombie cred” at the opening when we see in flashback how the entire world was overrun by them. Most of what gore is shown in the movie appears during this sequence. The rest of the film probably does not have anything more explicit than your average TV police show which shows bodies in various states of decomposition.
The opening is narrated by
, played by Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network). We learn his rules for surviving a zombie apocalypse. They include cardio (“the fatties were the first ones to go”), the double tap, and to beware of bathrooms. These rules appear on the screen in humorous ways as we are told about them. We quickly learn that even if there hadn’t been an outbreak of zombies, Columbus would have had issues from all his neuroses. His first sign that anything is wrong is when his gorgeous neighbor, 406 (Amber Heard), tries to attack him. Columbus
Out on the road he meets
, played by Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt, The Messenger). After some initial distrust they decide to continue on together. Tallahassee Tallahassee is the opposite of . He plays things loose and isn’t worried at all about how to keep himself safe from zombies. He stops at a supermarket in his constant quest to find a surviving Hostess Twinkie to eat. That’s where Columbus Columbus and Tallahassee meet Wichita, played by Emma Stone (Easy A), and , played by Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine). Little Rock
You’ll note no one is given a real name, not even the hot neighbor. After the zombie outbreak people adopted the usage of where they were from as their names so that if they ran into other people from there they could maybe find out news. The movie never goes into detail on why the sisters
Wichita and are from different cities, even though they are shown as being together before the zombie outbreak. Little Rock
Things don’t go well when
Columbus and Tallahassee first meet Wichita and – the girls end up with their guns and their truck. Little Rock finds a Humvee loaded with weapons (“thank God for rednecks!”) and he and Columbus go in pursuit of the two girls. Eventually they all work out their differences and decide to travel together. Tallahassee Wichita wants to take to the west coast where she has heard there is a safe zone. The men know this is probably false, but Little Rock lets them know she is doing this for her little sister, to keep her hopes up. They go along with it. Wichita
I won’t spoil anything that happens when they do get there. There’s a great cameo by yet another Oscar nominee. I would say who it is – far too many reviews spoil the reveal – but I will say that it’s a lot of fun. There is also a short scene after the credits with an additional appearance by this person.
Harrelson and Eisenberg make a good Odd Couple, while Stone and Breslin are believable as sisters. There’s a funny little scene that was adlibbed by Breslin where
Little Rock is trying to explain the greatness of Hannah Montana to . According to the movie’s commentary Breslin was just as fascinated with the show as other girls her age, despite being an actress herself, and everything she was saying was her own feelings about Hannah. Tallahassee
Reportedly this movie started out as a TV pilot, but was eventually turned into a movie. Even while it was still in theaters people were already talking about a sequel, but it has not happened yet. As I write this there are reports now that it might finally be on TV as a series, but without any of the movie’s performers, of course. Harrelson and Breslin were already well known and both Eisenberg and Stone’s careers have taken off since this film. In fact, now that Eisenberg has starred in The Social Network as the founder of Facebook there’s a fun moment for people in Zombieland when Eisenberg’s character mentions that one of the good things about living in Zombieland is not having to update your Facebook status anymore.
Comparisons between this film and Shaun of the Dead (2004) were numerous. In fact, I saw Zombieland called “the American Shaun of the Dead” on many occasions. I don’t know that that’s fair to either film. Yes, they are comedic horror movies about zombies, but that’s about where the comparisons end. Shaun of the Dead is a more traditional zombie movie where a number of people try to get to a shelter while zombies close in and kill them one by one, while Zombieland is more of a road movie where zombies are the biggest hazard the travelers have to face.
I like Zombieland a lot. It is very funny and entertaining. In fact, you could almost say it is a comedy first and a horror movie second, rather than the other way around. Unless you can’t stand any kind of zombie movies at all, I highly recommend this film.
Chip’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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DVD Blu-ray Instant Video