Everybody’s An Orphan in Zombieland (Zombieland, 2009)
The main reason is that I had way to much fun. Visually, the movie has a great style. The humor is spot on. The performances are terrific. I had a terrific time.
The first thing that stands out is that the credits are as inspired as Watchman’s opening credits. As we see slow motion zombie carnage, the credits are appearing on the screen, they get knocked off the screen by the zombies and their victims all to Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. It really sets the tone for the film. Wait, no, it is the sequence in which Jesse Eisenberg explains his rules, which pop up on the screen. His main for rules are Cardio. You better be able to run. I am going to give them a pass on the fat joke here. Because I don’t care how you cut it…we fat people can run quickly in short bursts, but we would likely be the first to get picked off in a zombie apocalypse.
Then, avoid bathrooms (demonstrated humorously in a bit featuring Mike White). Next is seatbelts. Always wear your seatbelt. Finally, there is the double tap. This means you do not want to be stingy with the bullets. If you shoot a zombie-take em out in the head to be safe. Technically, Eisenberg’s list is comprised of 32 rules. The recurring of the rules popping up on the screen is both funny and a helpful reminder.
A great bit is the film’s emphasis on how people have survived by not forming new attachments and how this has actually been damaging. Nobody knows the names of the characters. They are referred to by where they are from. So Woody Harrelson is Tallahassee, while Emma Stone is Wichita, Eisenberg is Columbus and Breslin is Little Rock.
The cast really sells the movie. Personally I really like Emma Stone, who has been entertaining in even crappy films like the House Bunny. And Abigail Breslin is great as her younger sister. I cannot say too much about these two, because it will spoil some great moments in the film. Eisenberg is a self described shut in who has survived because he really had no earthly attachments before the zombie apocalypse. He gets joined by Tallahassee, a rather anti-social guy with a morbid sense of humor and a real hatred of zombies. And a Twinkie fetish.
This is a strong horror comedy, not unlike Shaun of the Dead, although Shaun of the Dead was much gorier. This surprised me, I mean, Zombieland is not…bloodless. But outside of the very beginning, there is not a lot of grizzly, gory deaths, since it is pretty much all zombies being taken down. The humor on tap here is at times morbid, but it works in the context of the film. Trying to describe the jokes just won’t work outside of seeing them in context. But if you liked Shaun of the Dead? You will more than likely enjoy Zombieland.
The soundtrack is a fun mix of heavy metal, alternative and country and it works.
I think my only real criticism? Jesse Eisenberg. Don’t get me wrong, within the movie, his character is effective. But there isn’t that much difference between, say, Columbus and James from Adventureland. Or Jimmy from Cursed. Eisenberg seems to be playing slight variations on the quirky loner who seeks love persona over and over. Schwarzenegger has had more range than this. But all in all? Zombieland is a keeper.