Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zombieland: follow the rules

Horror Comedies tend not to fair well in the box office, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Zombieland and there’s a reason to that. Zombieland is a brilliantly made film that also happens to be funny as hell from start to finish. The basic story follows a young man who’s simply referred to as “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg) as this is where he’s from. He encounters a man who will be referred to as “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson) who is, at this point in the movie, either the biggest badass left on the planet OR maybe just a tad mentally unstable, perhaps both? They decide for some inexplicable reason to join up and travel together after a humorously tense “stand-off”. It quickly becomes apparent that Tallahassee has some screws loose, but this ups the humor factor by many degrees and frankly if it weren’t for the antics of Tallahassee, a good chunk of the movie wouldn’t be nearly as good as it was. I am, however, getting ahead of myself. Columbus, you see, lives by a certain code of honor, a set of rules he’s established for his personal survival. Tallahassee lives by his own personal law as well, it’s much simpler and to the point “enjoy the small things” and in his case that consists of killing zombies, breaking stuff (“venting steam” as he puts it), and desperately trying to find the one snack food he so longs for.

The entire opening section of the movie after the opening credits is Columbus explaining and showing examples of his rules in action. The basics of which are cardio, the double tap (putting an extra bullet in their head to ensure they’re dead), always wear your seatbelt, limber up, don’t be a hero and always check the backseat amongst others. The rules must have worked for him because, frankly, looking at his past there’s no way he should have survived. Speaking of the movie’s opening, the credit sequence in this movie is easily one of the best I’ve seen this year, right up there with watchmen’s, actually the two are very similar despite the different content. It’s all super slow motion Shots of zombies attacking people while “for whom the bell tolls” by Metallica plays

The movie is set, quite literally, across the entire United States. They start in Texas and head east, Ohio and Florida respectively; where during a food stop/Tallahassee steam vent they encounter a couple of survivors named Wichita and Little Rock (played by the gorgeous Emma Stone and the still adorable though she’s starting to grow up Abigail Breslin). I don’t want to ruin some of the best scenes in the movie for you, but let’s just say eventually they “decide” to travel together. Wichita and Little Rock are heading to pacific playland, which they hear is zombie free. The boys “decide” to come along and they wind up in Hollywood, Tallahassee makes the brilliant idea of staying at some celebrity’s home, he describes the person as the “top of the A+” celebrities….it turns out to be Bill Murray, in one of the funniest cameos I’ve seen in a very long time.

I’m not going to discuss the end of the film, but will state that it’s very well done and has some wonderfully funny moments. All in all though I will end by saying that the casting on this film could not have been any better, every time I see Jesse Eisenberg in a film I like him more and more. Woody Harrelson is in top notch form and Emma Stone is proving that she can hang with the big dogs now, though it’s pretty easy when you have the co-stars she has in this. Zombieland does sway much harder in the comedy direction, but there are some good jump scares and the make up FX are done well, and the film is shot beautifully. There are some wonderful parts where if someone does something, or fails to do something on Columbus’ master list a graphic will subtly spring up in the background acknowledging this, little touches like this are what make the film so worth watching. 5 our of 5 stars

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