October 25, 2009
Review - " Zombieland " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Horror comedy is a tricky genre as it is. Wringing laughs from horror and murder and death and gore is not a popular thing
among the people, and is hard to do, especially for an extended period of time. It helps to add another element to help
stretch things out (like the romantic comedy element of Shaun of the Dead), and while the filmmakers threatened to make
this added element it actually became more of a coming of age type of deal.
The main character is nerdy, socially awkward, World of
Warcraft addict Columbus, played by Jesse Eisenberg who
goes from Adventureland to Zombieland, and seems to be
making a nice little career out of doing the movies Michael
Cera didn't have time for. He has a voice over that runs
throughout the whole movie from front to back, and it's pretty
good. It's used to convey a decent amount of information, and
is also used as a vehicle to offer up a handful of rules in
humorous fashion (such as rule # 7 - Limber up). He meets up
with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a wild man of a Zombie
killer on an endless hunt for Twinkies. Columbus and
Tallahassee band together for what they plan to be a short
amount of time. And of course, an unlikely friendship forms
over the course of the movie. They run into a pair of sisters,
Wichita (Emma Stone, Superbad) and Little Rock (Abigail
Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine), and this is a little confusing,
because if each person is named from the city they are from,
why are the sisters from two different cities? In retrospect, they
never specified whether it was simply hometowns or birth cities, or perhaps they aren't really sisters, but that's a minor
Zombieland is pretty entertaining throughout. The voice over and various rules gives the whole thing a Hitchhiker's Guide to
the Galaxy type of feel, and there are some sweet musical selections throughout the movie, like Metallica's "For Whom the
Bell Tolls" during the opening credits. Mr. Harrelson is pretty great as Tallahassee, and Mr. Eisenberg is appropriately nerdy
and awkward as Columbus. For the most part the movie is a really good time, and though it gets really violent and gory, a lot
of that is muted by the fact that 95% of the blood in the movie is obviously digital and many of the hardest, most grueling hits
of the movie are digitally faked. There is definitely something to be said for actual squibs and the use of on-set practical
effects. Overall, Zombieland is sweet, and while the zombie movie well has been run pretty dry recently, it is nice to see that
someone can still use the genre in a pretty smart way without being totally derivative.
So here are my rules for enjoying "Zombieland" - When you watch the movie you’ll understand what I'm talking about.
this flick. Some advice would be to prepare your snacking habits before you go into the flick so you can munch away when
the credits roll.
Zombieland Rule #3 – CHECK OUT THE TITLES
Zombieland is narrated by Columbus in a way that viewers can appreciate. This isn’t your regular “So there I was…”
narration and Jesse Eisenberg pulls off the tone perfectly. The story is narrated through a series of Zombieland Rules and
with them comes some amazing title work throughout the film. Zombieland uses animated titles within the frame of the shot.
They work really well in terms of telling the story and showing a refreshing image on screen.
Zombieland Rule #4 – HOLD YOUR PEE TILL THE END
Okay maybe that was a bit gross, but with a run time of only 80 minutes, Zombieland is the perfect flick to see with a big
group of friends. It’s long enough to develop a good story, but short enough that you won’t be squirming around in your seat
waiting for the credits.
Zombieland Rule #5 – DON’T BE OFFENDED IF THINGS GO DISNEY
For all of the blood and gore and comedy strung throughout Zombieland, the heart of the story is really in the development
of a family. With four homeless, family-less characters banding together after a few road blocks, this flick’s resolution is less
about killing zombies and more about developing relationships. But this is not a a bad thing. Over and over again we see
zombie flicks use the relationships of humans as a secondary storyline, but with Zombieland the development of a family
environment is the central plot and also a breath of fresh air.
Zombieland Rule # 6 – SMALL CASTS RULE
Without a huge ensemble cast of characters to have
worry about, Zombieland brings you right into the story
from the very beginning and keeps you in the world of
4 central characters throughout. Woody Harrelson
plays Tallahassee, Jesse Eisenberg plays Columbus,
Emma Stone plays Wichita and Abigail Breslin plays
Little Rock. If you’re confused about the names, then
you’re going to have to check out the flick. With one
small but AWESOME cameo by a legendary comedian,
this cast is more or less complete. Having a small cast
like this was great for the viewer because it centralizes
the story around nothing more than what you should
be paying attention to. Woody did a great job as the
roudy zombie hunter with an emotional past. Emma
Stone plays the clever older sister and mother figure
to the younger Abigail Breslin and Jesse Eisenberg
again does his best Micheal Cera impression and
goes awkward. When you string them all together, it works out wonderfully.
Zombieland Rule # 7 – APPRECIATE THE EFFECTS
Unlike a lot of huge big budget disaster flicks that blow their entire loads on explosions and gore scenes, Zombieland gets it
all done on the cheap; and you can tell. Directed by Reuben Fleischer and written by the team of Rhett Reese and Paul
Wernick it is quite obvious that Zombieland was not made to win any awards for special effects. What it does do is bring a lot
of the old school style back into the fold. Blood is drippy, slimy grossness to the point where it is more comedy than gore.
Heads explode, bones break and zombies literally splat, but if anything the situations will make you laugh.
Zombieland Rule # 8 – DON’T EXPECT A HORROR FLICK
Zombieland is a hilarious half parody of a lot of zombie flicks from over the years. It’s not anything like you’re typical zombie
storyline where they explain the origin of the disease and a rag tag group of heroes saves the world. This flick is really about
how people grow up and become something more in an independent society.
Directed by: Reuben Fleischer
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail
There was a series of commercials lately purporting to advertise "The
greatest product placement movie of our time". They obviously were
talking about "Zombieland". Product placement in movies is nothing
new but usually it's fairly subtle. "Zombieland" is so blatant is just a
hair shy of Laura Linney in "The Truman Show" telling poor Jim Carey
about some kitchen implement she just picked up at the supermarket.
"It slices, dices, and makes hundreds of julienne fries!" Among the
in-your-face product advertisements are Mountain Dew Code red,
Hostess (specifically Twinkies & Snoballs), FedEx, Purell, Hummer,
Cadillac Escalade, World of Warcraft, and Lancome. I am sure there
were a plethora of others that were a bit less obvious. Does anyone
even remember what cell phone they were pushing in that "product
placement" commercial? I don't. I don't know if those guys from
Madison Avenue should be commended or fired. They created a
great memorable ad campaign, only problem is you remember the
commercial but not the product.
As you may have guessed I finally broke down and went to see
"Zombieland" over the weekend. (mostly because I'm a fan of Abigail
Breslin and Jesse Eisenberg). I have been avoiding this film like mad
flesh eating cannibals but it has held on in the top ten movies for so
many weeks I figured there must be something to it. I am pleased to
say that I truly enjoyed it. It's sort of a cross between "28 days" and
"Shaun of the Dead". I may now have to go see "Paranormal Activity"
(I utterly refuse to see any of the "saw" series prior to DVD release
and even then maybe not).
Zombieland Rule #1 – ENJOY ZOMBIELAND IN ANY
STATE OF MIND
Very rarely does a flick come around that is equally
as funny while in a bunch of different states of
mind. Zombieland is one of these flicks where it can
be enjoyed on multiple maturity levels for multiple
reasons. Combining this with all of the other points
made above and I’m going to give Zombieland a
solid 3 out of 5 stars.
Zombieland Rule #2 – STOCK UP ON HOSTESS
When you walk out of Zombieland you’re probably
going to want to munch on some kind of Hostess
snack product. I have a feeling some funding may
have come from the creators of the Twinkie
because product placement is used quite well in
Brrrrrrrraaaaaains-eating in "Zombieland" - it's an
oft-hilarious B-movie whose only ambition is to
entertain us with jokes, violence and gore. It's fun,
Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson have good
chemistry as classic mismatched buddies and it has
easily the year's best surprise cameo.
I've stated in previous reviews that lately I may
have been guilty of 'grade inflation' in my star
ratings. This weekend I think I've gone in the
opposite direction, all of the movies I've reviewed
this week are worthy of a half star higher rating -
with the exception of "New York, I Love You" which
I found exceptionally disappointing and probably
deserves a half star lower.