Ironically, there are two movie sub-genres that never seem to die: Slasher Films and Zombie Films. We're currently in zombie-craze, probably do to all the pent up geek-anger over the Twilight franchise, and the indie film circuits are swarming with the Undead (See Dead Snow, Yesterday, or Survival of the Dead for examples of this).
So it was inevitable that another mainstream Hollywood zombie film was on the way, stripping away all the nuance and social commentary that, oddly, accompanies most of these films about not-so-subtle, flesh-eating, hyphen-inducing corpses.Timmy's backyard birthday party goes horribly wrong.
, a surprisingly charming, light-hearted comedy that lives up to all your qualms about major studio releases but gives you such a fun ride that you won't care. Like that brash title suggests, this is a joy ride of a movie, and not just because all of the third act takes place in an amusement park. There is no deep meaning, no societal allegory, and, possibly to the chagrin of die-hard zombie fans, no nihilistic ending. This is pure joy ... with intestine-munching monsters.
Converted into movie-form by writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who originally developed the story for CBS television, the story is thin at best. A geek and a bad boy road-trip through a zombie wasteland, trying to survive. They join forces with two girls and make their way to the west coast, along the way they learn to be friends. But what makes the film work is the clever dialog and great chemistry between the four actors.Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Woody Harrelson.
Jesse Eisenberg plays Columbus (so named for his city of origin, like all the main characters), his usual awkward geek-role. While this type-casting is tried and true, Jesse is infinitely re-watchable in this archetype, proving his physical-comedy chops as he commits grievous acts of violence with a neurotic, Woody Allen-esque detachment.
The obvious Odd Coupling with Woody Harrelson's Tallahasee works very well. The two had such a fun time with the stunts and dialog that it practically jumps off the screen. Luckily, the tone of the movie permits a lot of smile, because it's obvious most of the ones on screen were uncontainable.
Also, Eisenberg's chemistry with Emma Stone (playing Wichita) is spot on. Unlike most of these films where the love story is an afterthought, this is the main driving force of the movie. Their romantic banter is fun and quieter moments also work well, carrying an air of sincerity to an otherwise silly film.
This mix of PG-rated humor with R-rated violence and language is an utter blast. It gives the audience the cathartic release of gasping and screaming at the jump-scares and gross-outs, but leaves them feeling light inside. Walking out of Zombieland
felt like walking out of a Pixar movie, an accomplishment worth noting since the film features some of the grossest, ultra-slow-motion zombie kills in memory.It's his fault for calling shotgun.
Take this an add a dash of brilliant second-act celebrity cameo (if you can, do not research this movie, because the cameo was a total, joyous, shock) and you have a delicious recipe. It's not exactly a seven course meal, but it's a perfect dessert.