Zombieland has the shortest cast list I have seen in a feature length film in a long while. It actually reminds me of the film itself. It’s focused, knows what it is, and it’s a darn fun bloody ride that doesn’t overstay its welcome. The title of the film pretty much tells you what you are in for. The world has been over run by zombies. Sure, there are stories that you hear out west that there are no zombies on the east and vice versa. Truth is zombies are everywhere. These are more of the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, 28 Days/Weeks Later sprinting type zombies. So if you are a zombie traditionalist this may upset you. I would warn zombie aficionados that similar to Trekkies fearing J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek to give Zombieland a chance. It might just be the film that makes zombies hotter than the current glut of vampire flicks and TV shows.
We are introduced to paranoid Columbus, Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland) as he is filling his car with gas. He walks us through some basic rules that one must adhere to at all times to have any chance of survival in Zombieland. We quickly see why the lanky, timid Columbus has made it as long as he has thanks to said rules since he comes under attack pretty quickly. Columbus got his name since that is where he is headed. You see in Zombieland, any non zombie that you meet is known by either where they are from or where they are going. As such as Columbus continues his journey home he next encounters the red neck, whiskey-swilling, Dale Earnhardt’s 3 displayed on every vehicle he drives, purveyor of ass kicking (and business is good in Z-land) Tallahassee, Woody Harrelson. After a brief Mexican standoff, the unlikely pair set off to ‘probably about Texarkana’ as Tallahasse figures that is about how long he will be able to tolerate Columbus and his rules.
Making a questionable pit stop along the way, the duo cross paths with Wichita, Emma Stone (Superbad) and Little Rock, Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine). Eventually they find themselves as a team as they make their way toward Pacific Play-land, the most mind blowing allegedly zombie free place on the west coast. Along the way they encounter many a zombie and what is arguably the best cameo on film of the last decade. Be sure to avoid the IMDB and Wikipedia pages for the film as they ruin the cameo.
A film like this is easy to discredit but one would be mistaken to do so. First time feature length director Ruben Fleischer does an excellent job. From the awesome slow-mo shots of the opening credits as Metallica’s”For Whom the Bell Tolls” plays showing daily life as it slowly slipped away from normal to the infected zombie masses, to the use of the floating rules through out the film. The film has a razor sharp focus and sticks to it, never strays far from its point. The short run time of 90 minutes probably helped since Zombieland doesn’t overstay its welcome. This is one of those films that doesn’t take its self too seriously and has tons of fun in the process.
How into it were the actors? They were all great. I think the biggest piece of promotion the film received was when Harrelson had an altercation with a member of the paparazzi at an airport and claimed that he had forgotten that he was no longer on set in Zombieland. He also did the wardrobe for his character. One note I would say is that this is the second film in which Jesse Eisenberg plays the timid lead, incidentally enough in a film with the word land and a theme park in it, he was seen earlier this year in the stellar Adventureland. Nothing wrong with that as his performance here is just as strong as it was there, but with a more fun self-depreciating angle. Emma Stone plays the tough, take no B.S., manipulating Wichita with aplomb. She is the older sister of the young Abigail Breslin as the street smart, learning from older sister hustler.
In Zombieland, one can have a narrow focus on the things that they want. A sweet treat, a lady by their side, or a trip to an amusement park to have careless fun. Whatever you are looking for it should be Zombieland as it’s a fun gory walk of it’s own.
I give Zombieland 4 “Hollywood Maps to the stars” out of 5
by John Coovert