A Zombie Killing Roller Coaster Ride
October 3, 2009 Leave a comment
ZOMBIELAND (Dir. Ruben Fleischer, 2009)
If you go in expecting an American SHAUN OF THE DEAD, you won’t be far off – and the good news: that’s so not a bad thing. Armed with a numbered list of do’s and don’ts, we find Jesse Eisenberg (ADVENTURELAND, THE SQUID AND THE WHALE), as one of the few remaining uninfected humans left after a zombie apocalypse. He meets up with Woody Harrelson as a rough and ready redneck whose favorite expression is “nut up or shut up” and who plucks a banjo (playing “Dueling Banjos” from DELIVERANCE, mind you) to get zombies to come out of the woodwork so he can bash their heads in.
They soon join up with a couple of grifting sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) and off they go hitting the literal “road to ruin”. Eisenberg hopes to find his family (alive and not zombie-fied) in Columbus, the sisters want to make it to Pacific Playland in LA which they hear is zombie free, and Harrelson simply wants to find a Twinkie.
There is not much of a plot beyond that. It’s a series of zombie attack situations framed by Eisenberg’s rules (including “avoid bathrooms” and “remember seat belts”) and pop culture references which add to, not detract from the tone of the humor. A clever confidence is always present in this material and the edge of your seat action never falters. It’s a zombie killing roller coaster ride that actually has a zombie killing roller coaster ride in it!
Some film critic folks have unfairly branded Eisenberg as a Michael Cera-wannabe for his ADVENTURELAND performance but he has his own style of nervous awkward mannerisms that shouldn’t be discounted here. His chemistry with the cute but conniving Stone and flustered comedic exchanges with Harrelson glue this all together without getting it sticky. You can actually believe his character’s expressed sentiment about his new found friends and in a world filled with the flesh eating undead, that’s saying a lot.
I wouldn’t recommend ZOMBIELAND to the squeamish, or more aptly those who don’t care for zombie movies, but for the rest of us it may be the most unabashedly fun film this year. And whatever you do, don’t let anybody spoil the surprise extended cameo. It’s worth the price of admission alone.
Post note: Also be sure to stay to the very end of the credits – it’s another worthwhile factor I won’t spoil.