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10.14.2009

Zombieland


From time to time, a director will come along and take the best of a popular tradition of storytelling, tweak it slightly to add a few fresh nuances, then package the whole thing together in a crowd-pleasing format. Despite the mixed critical appraisal of Zack Snyder's 300 (2006), I think that film is a fine example of such an artistic hodge-podge.
Ruben Fleischer's Zombieland is similarly delightful.
The casting in this film was top notch. Woody Harrelson is a damned hoot as the zombie-ass-kicking Tallahassee. A brutal butcher of blood-soaked brain brunchers, Harrelson also has a soft side. His losses in the wake of the zombpocalypse, revealed late in the film, are substantial and heart-breaking. Plus, the man simply longs for a twinkie. It's the carrot that drives him--life's simplicities.
Jesse Eisenberg is perfect as the neurotic Columbus, whose rules for survival literally flash on and off the screen throughout the film. He's got the dork thing down pat, but he rises to the occasion when needed. Eisenberg shows some promise; I think he might have more chops than the rest of the Micheal Cera, Jonah Hill set.
Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are solid as a couple of hard-as-nails sisters with "trust issues." They hold up well against their male counterparts, though it's certainly not their film.
Oh, and there's a cameo in this one that simply slays. I won't bust it out on the blog, and stay away from IMDB if you want to enjoy that surprise. It's awesome (stick around for the quick post-credits deleted scene).
These zombies look like Romero's dead-eyed scourge, but they run like Danny Boyle's faster creatures--hence Columbus's first rule to survival: cardio.
It's an entertaining, fast-paced romp through the United States of Zombieland, at times a touching buddy comedy, at times a sad ode to existentialism. Fleischer gets in, gets messy and keeps the action moving forward. At a little over eighty minutes in length, the film blazes by.
Oh, and check out the effects on Columbus's rule about seat belts. I've never seen anything like it, and I'm not talking about all the pre-pubescent zombie girls hanging off the minivan, folks. Killer effect.
Zombieland earns an 'A'. Nice to see some quality films coming coming down the pipeline of late...

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