Review of Zombieland
November 19, 2009
Zombieland is half how-to video half tongue-in-cheek comic adventure. Aside from the occasional stupid move on the part of the characters, Zombieland is an entertaining romp through a land of the dead-of-sorts.
Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), an isolated, skinny geek, survived the initial zombie infection. He developed a series of rules to keep himself safe, uninfected, and alive. They include doing cardio and always doing the double tap. After an unfortunate series of events, Columbus is thrown into the lap of Twinkie-loving cowboy Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). Tallahassee isn’t interested in keeping Columbus around long and does all he can to make it painfully clear. While out scouting for food, Columbus and Tallahassee find Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), a fiercely loyal set of sisters, in a heart-wrenching situation.
The chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson could charm the undergarments off the most dedicated nun. Brilliantly gauche sparks of silliness fly across the screen between the two, lighting up the viewer. They’re able to make the ridiculous dialogue and situations feel natural.
Lines like “Time to nut up or shut up!” and “You’re like a giant... cock blocking robot, like developed in a secret fucking government lab” pepper the script. I would not be surprised if many of the lines become instant classics amongst zombie film lovers and comedy fans alike.
I was impressed by the general bad-assery of ladies Wichita and Little Rock in the film. Not only are they smokin’ hot, they are not waiting around for men to save them; they aren’t simpering damsels but scheming, killing machines. Just when the audience has probably ruled them out, they come out swinging.
Director Ruben Fleischer doesn’t rest on acting or writing alone; he pays careful attention to how the movie looks as well. I’m not just talking about particularly disgusting zombies or flesh-ripping scenes but how the entire movie looks. The lighting, the framing, even the composition are first rate. During many of the opening scenes and at various times throughout the movie, a paused still of Zombieland is indistinguishable from a cell from a comic book.
The best part of Zombieland is the clever use of Columbus’s rules, displayed in writing during each scene. The two used most often are “double tap” and “do your cardio.” Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick use the rules as humorous punctuation to the sequence of the plot. When the meaning of a scene could swing either tragic or triumphant, the filmmakers add just the right comma to make its path clear.
I absolutely love zombie movies because they offer perspective on what’s important. Zombies don’t care that someone is good or bad, rich or poor, white or black; they only care that they have delicious brains and guts. The fit, smart people survive and everyone else sort of dies. Zombieland is no exception to its genre.
The consequences for being ill-prepared for an undead attack in Zombieland encouraged me to be a better person (or at least a trimmer one). I don’t want to be a “poor fat bastard,” and I don’t want to be eaten with the fatties. I wouldn’t be able to bear the indignity of being the fat zombie chasing my husband around our house. It’s just no way to go. If I’ve learned one lesson from the movie, it’s that I need to do my cardio.
My one gripe with Zombieland is that they did not get their science facts right. Columbus calls mad cow disease a virus. Mad cow disease is not a virus but a prion that gets into the body by eating infected meat.
Small disease-related details aside, Zombieland is a great addition to a genre filled with great zombie movies. Bringing together elements of humor and gore, Zombieland is a satisfying flick that amuses the morbid sense of the viewer’s inner child.