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Halloween Movie Review #9: Zombieland

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zombieland posterYes, yes, I know. I hadn’t seen Zombieland until now. It’s not that I didn’t want to. It’s just that, when I’m in the mood, I’m usually in the mood for something a little more grindhouse or old-school. Or Godzilla.

Zombieland may not be grainy, but a little shine and polish is just what the doctor ordered after a couple weeks of depressing movies filled with monsters, psychopaths, killing, and blood (and especially after Would You Rather?, but that’s another story).

Not that it doesn’t have its fair share of monsters and blood, but it’s played for laughs and a few splashes of dark humor here and there. Jesse Eisenberg plays lovelorn nerd Columbus who teams up with Woody Harrelson’s badass cowboy Tallahassee (everyone is named for the city they are from) as he journeys across the apocalyptic zombie wasteland of the USA in search of his parents in Ohio.

jesse and zombie

Along the way they run into two street smart sisters – played by Emma Stone and Little Miss Sunshine Abigail Breslin – who turn the tables on them a couple of times but end up joining forces for a stretch. Along the way, Columbus has a series of rules for survival that cleverly pop up on the screen when they need punctuation, and Tallahassee is searching high and low for the last Twinkie on earth.

Despite the zombies, all this makes for surprisingly light subject matter, including the funniest Bill Murray cameo I’ve seen in the last decade. The writing is slick and smart-alecky, and we immediately like these characters who, despite their initial caution, are above that standard Lord of the Flies drama. The Walking Dead this ain’t.

the zombieland crew

I knew I would enjoy this film and I did. It’s a great romp with high production values and solid acting. It’s everything it promises to be, with no real surprises. It also cries out for a sequel, which has been announced, but currently seems to be in pre-production. There’s also a pilot you can find online for a slapstick Naked Gun-style TV series, scripted by the original creators, that surprisingly never got picked up either. The field still seems pretty ripe for this kind of stuff, so I’m stuck scratching my head on that.

While watching this film, I also happened to chow down three caramel apples with nuts, one right after the other. What can I say? Zombie movies always make me hungry. My wife and I have a longstanding argument about whether fruit counts as a dessert. In this case, I think I can concede a narrow exception.

Woody Harrelson

Now that you’ve seen the film…

******** SPOILER ALERT ***********

My theory is that this movie all started when the writers were in Disneyland or some other amusement park, goofing around about how funny it would be if zombies invaded a theme park, and how you might battle them on the rides. Thus I believe the entire film had its genesis in the last 20 minutes. Just a theory, but, given the title, I think it’s a pretty solid one.



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