The Night Out: Zombieland (2009), or You Don’t Really KILL A Zombie, Do You?

10 10 2009

What a great time at the movie theaters! It’s not every day you come across something like Zombieland. It’s that perfect mixture of the intelligent and the brainless; it was crafted sharply by a cast and crew who knew what they were doing, but looked like they had a whole hell of a lot of fun while they were doing it.

It’s a zombie apocalypse movie with a lot of humor dashed in, much like the movie in my blasphemous Easter review, Return of the Living Dead. We start out not too long after the outbreak of the horrific zombie virus, which is never really explained too well, for our benefit, and we follow the misadventures of a young, scrawny protagonist named Columbus. That’s not his name, but it’s a rule of thumb in the wasteland to never get too personal with someone, so he just goes by the place that he’s traveling to. He lives by a lot of rules, but the emphasis on that sentence would be that he LIVES; his strict code of conduct has kept him in one piece, somehow. Everything is going just peachy (besides the nasty, ravenous zombies) for him until he meets up with a guy named Tallahassee, a total bad-ass driving his Escalade through the wasteland with a mind for zombie-cide and finding a box of Twinkies. They team up, finding each others company better than loneliness, and so off they go in search of a place not infested with zombies and hopefully stocked with Twinkies. Along the way, they meet up with two other non-zombie humans, sisters named Wichita and Little Rock. They have a bit of a dicey past, not to mention a dicey present, but perhaps all they need is a little company too. Can these four crazy strangers survive on their own in a world filled with monsters obsessed with eating them? Will they learn to trust each other and lower their emotional barriers? Will Tallahassee get his god-damn Twinkies???

Zombieland is a laugh-out-loud self-aware horr-edy about what survivors do to, well, survive in a situation like this. They all have their reasons for being alive; Columbus is smart, Tallahassee is a fucking zombie-killing superhero, and sisters Little Rock and Wichita are crafty, conniving gals. It’s also about getting along in the face of adversity. None of these people would have any reason to be anywhere near each other in life before the apocalypse, so they don’t seem to have a lot in common at first. But things change when you put someone puts their life in your hands, so friendships form where before there was only silence.

And it also helps that these actors have amazing rapport together. Jesse Eisenberg, or, as I like to call him, “Awesome”, is awesome as Columbus. He has that nervous, frantic energy that he exudes better than most people in Hollywood today, except maybe Michael Cera. Woody Harrelson is Tallahassee, and I am damn glad to say so. He hit the nail on the head, or the zombie in the face, with this role. All it requires him to do is beat shit up, say quirky one-liners, and get emotional in one single scene. Luckily enough for him and us, that’s the extent of his acting. Emma Stone is Wichita, and GROWL!, what a stone-cold jaguar she is. I usually don’t react to women in movies, because they’re normally so damn boring to look at and listen to. But Emma Stone reaches in and pulls the guts out of me with her fresh look and her feisty attitude. Purr… Abigail Breslin always gives me a little sunshine on the inside, even when she’s kind of a fourth wheel, which she is as Little Rock. This role is no exception, and I found myself smiling in spite of my pronounced manliness just looking at her gee-golly shucks face and her cute dimples. Aww…

Columbus explaining the rules to us at the beginning is a definite highlight, informing any jaded movie-goers that the script, too, know its way around zombie flicks. My favorite rule is the Double Tap; always always always shoot a zombie twice. That’s just common sense. Columbus and Tallahassee’s attempts to get Twinkies are pretty funny, especially when they go to the grocery store and find the overweight zombies (“They really let themselves go.”). The four in the car together also make for good comedy, as they feed off each other in that Apatow-esque comic energy. The night driving scenes had me rolling in the aisles. But all this stuff pales in comparison to Bill Murray’s cameo. He has not only the best role in the movie, but possibly one of the best cameos of all time. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I URGE you to watch Zombieland for Bill Murray purposes!

It’s a fun, turn-your-brain-off kind of movie for some and a fun, keep-your-eyes-peeled kind of movie for others. It’s got a lot for everyone to enjoy. If you like zombie movies or even only zombie movies where the zombies run fast, this movie’s for you. If you like wall-to-wall comedy, full of R-rated potty humor and visceral violence humor, this movie’s for you. If you like fast action mixed with a good soundtrack mixed with grimace-inducing zombie effects, this movie’s for you. And if you like Bill Murray, this movie is DEFINITELY for you. I think it would take a lot for you to not like Zombieland, because they give a lot to everyone in any which direction, and for that I give it 9 golden creme-filled sponge cakes out of 10! A high recommendation!

Tomorrow I totally take on the streets with Street Trash! Until then!