Saturday, October 03, 2009

Zombieland (****1/2)

Zombieland. 81 mins. R. Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick. Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin.

Zombieland is everything you could want in a horror comedy about a world taken over by zombies and more. It is an unpretentious, kick-ass flick that hits the comedic bullseye almost every step of the way. The script is smart, the direction is stylish, and the casting inspired. How great is it to see Woody Harrelson back in action as a leading man? Woody is an awesome actor particularly adept at comedies, and he's got himself a classic character here as Tallahassee, the Twinkie-lovin' zombie killer in the vein of John Wayne. He's equally matched with Roger Dodger and Adventureland's Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus, who, armed with a boatload of funny lines, makes all of them stick. Zombies certainly factor into the movie, but it's more of a road trip comedy than anything else. Tallahassee and Columbus are joined by Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) as they travel cross country to L.A., looking for the last refuge in America that hasn't been taken over by zombies. Along the way, Columbus (all the characters are named after their home towns) serves as the audience's nervous tour guide to Zombieland, giving a list of rules to survive (Rule No. 1 - Cardio). These rules pop up on screen throughout the movie, and they're cleverly used, sometimes making a funny scene even funnier. Best of all though is a celebrity cameo in the middle of the movie (I won't reveal who), and it's one of the great cameos of all time, both for who the person is and what the movie does with him/her. This segment is an instant classic, and will definitely be a highlight talking point for audience members when the lights go up. If you enjoyed Shaun of the Dead, you're almost certain to get a kick out of Zombieland. The movie is gory, goofy fun, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Nut up or shut up, but whatever you do, go see Zombieland. It's one of the best of the year.

- John


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