Saturday, February 6, 2010


"Zombieland" is an in-your-face, disgusting, and very comical zombie film that loses control after it goes somewhere random and doesn't know what to do next. I enjoyed a good portion of it, but (as my friend said) as how most of the movies of this genre get, I found it, like my friend said, very dulling past a certain point. I felt roughly the same with the oft-compared "Shaun of the Dead," which I found to terribly disappointing (as my friend did) and badly marketed as an actually funny film. "Zombieland" delivers on that front. Rhett Reese and Paul Warnick give a funny script to the actors, at least for the most part. But, yes, the movie works principally because of Woody Harrelson, who, if there was a comedy Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, should have at least gotten some praise there. Jesse Eisenberg doesn't hurt either, but, to quote Chris Nashawaty, he's very "one-note." Much like how the film is, or at least becomes, when the effect wears off.

Basically, the film immediately tries to be appealing and watchable, first by trying to wrap everything around "rules" that appear on-screen. I found this to be equally annoying as comical (Zombie Kill of the Week, though, you have to give props for being totally ridiculous). Same with the zombies are black-bile drooling freaks, who set their eyes on a target and go after it like nuts. Seems kind of like what I've heard regarding Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" (I think I heard it from Aspergian Sarah) and "running zombies." Anyways, you can see how many unsuspecting people get rendered undead. Oh, and they go for goading consumerism with the whole Twinkie meme, which probably will cause some people to go out and "enjoy the little things" at their local convenience store. It's so "integral" to the plot that I'm being less than cynical.

Now, I should get on to describing the plot. Jesse Eisenberg, the audience's kind entry point to Zombieland USA, is walking around after he's lost his car and apparently his family to zombies. He meets Woody Harrelson, who's driving a Lincoln Continental with a huge snowplow and who's a veteran when it comes to this stuff, even a zombie sadist (as another friend said, there's an interesting variety of zombie kills in this movie). Harrelson and Eisenberg take the two extremely annoying nicknames of Tallahassee and Columbus, which they'll be called for the whole movie, due to the destinations they're supposedly trying to reach. They find two sisters as well, who they call Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). You'll find these two are experienced con artists, and they even play the same sort of trick that Nicolas Cage and Alison Lohman do in "Matchstick Men." Wichita will also become the lover of Columbus, resulting in scenes that are pretty sappy and remind me of "Adventureland" (Eisenberg's other recent film, which was better).

For some reason, all of the "destinations" are on the East Coast, but the sisters decide to make a U-turn and go all the way to Pacific Playland in Los Angeles, because it "reminds them of their childhoods." I can somewhat excuse it in a zombie film where there is no direction whatsoever, but usually it would be considered pretty contrived. But first, they randomly make a stop for shelter at not anyone's old house to spend the night (I don't get this whole thing). You are probably going to get mad at me for telling you who it is, so I'll just say a coda about it at the bottom, regarding its semblance to a video I saw a long time before this movie.

Anyways, a long-feeling portion of the film is spent here, and the climax, which is contrived with good cinematography. Ruben Fleischer, the film's director, loses control. The movie gets a lot less interesting than the beginning. Now for the technical stuff. Harrelson was good, Eisenberg was pretty decent, Breslin got a little annoying, and Stone I don't think I was crazy about either. It's a Harrelson movie, pretty much. I don't know, though, if I'd take the time to see it. Funny for a while, but getting so random and just unexplained it doesn't work. Even "Shaun of the Dead" had a better hand on its plot. C+

Don't look on the IMDB page if you want the twist to be kept secret

CODA (SPOILER ALERT; REGARDS "MAIN TWIST," as it has been called): The person in question is actually Bill Murray. I thought it was kind of funny when Columbus mistook him for a zombie (saying a line reminiscent of "The Tuxedo" and James Brown), but the section didn't work beyond a certain point and felt just a like an advertisement for Bill Murray dripping in hero worship. Here's the video I was talking about that has him in it in a very similar situation (that doesn't involve zombies). Pete and Brian beat them to the punch, apparently.


aspergiansarah said...

Ah! I can't believe you insulted "Shaun of the Dead" & "Zombieland" in the same sentence!

Both are very funny & have great characters, considering the flesh-eaters have a good chance of taking up the film. I love "Shaun of the Dead," & I don't even know why.

It might of been the great dialogue, or the interplay between the characters (both movies.)

I thought everyone in ZL did an excellent job, though Stone's tough-girl persona was a bit cliched, as was her inevitable romantic tension between she & Eisenberg.

This is the next movie I must openly argue... okay, don't worry. I'm not going to "Up" extremes.

I will agree that the whole Bill Murray thing was pretty random, but it WAS funny, and the strangeness was just another brilliant contribution to a movie that has no interest in logic.

P.S. For me, both "Shaun of the Dead" & "Zombieland" are sure to be multi-watchable, fun comedies.

Stephanie aka The Stark Raving Bibliophile said...

I haven't watched this movie -- my daughter warned me that it was probably too violent and gory for me. :-D

Nick Duval said...

It's actually quite disgusting--- I was able to get through it, but it's very gross. I wouldn't see it, though. If you're on to renting something, I assure you it should be A Serious Man or The Hurt Locker.

--- Nick

aspergiansarah said...

I would, but... that's just me? I guess I'll say I would be afraid to recommend it to YOU. Zombie guts are a acquired taste.

And this one starts with a bang, not a drone like "Shaun of the Dead," so if you plan to slowly ebb into extreme violence this isn't for you. Anyone who wasn't disgusted by SOTD, American Werewolf in London, or certainly Sweeney Todd should check this out.

And, well, Nick... I'd say you were too sensitive, but perhaps it isn't such a bad thing. My little brother gets grossed out easy too, and my dad is attempting to tough him up.

I must admit I joined in the coercion, but I've been feeling sort of bad about it, so I've loosened up. I guess you don't have to like gratuitous violence to be a reviewer.

It's just not a good plan to be horror critic. I like violent movies, but sometimes not torture or sex paired with injury, so I'm not the exploitation type. I personally like horror movies a) funny, b) subtle (like ghost stories,) or more cerebral and realistic. I'll take a real-life horror story over "Hostel" any day.

Horror is an awesome genre. Just, in this day and age, keep the air sick bag with you for the first couple of weeks.