Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone
When their world inexplicably succumbs to an (almost) all-consuming zombie apocalypse, survivors Columbus and Tallahassee are forced to devise their own ways of staying alive amongst the countless amounts of flesh-hungry undead. Columbus, being the friendless wuss that he is, has learned to use this ineptitude to his advantage in order to devise a list of survival rules he and everyone should follow to always be one step ahead of the formerly living. Tallahassee on the other hand is a gun-toting macho man stereotype that believes living without fear is the only way to go. When their fates unexpectedly collide, what ensues is an hilarious gore-filled romp through horde after horde of mindless undead… all while staying in pursuit of the world’s last remaining Twinkies.
There’s undoubtedly been frequent talk about the all-too-familiar zombie movie formula running on its last legs, especially over the course of the past few years. Thankfully, director Ruben Fleischer and writers Reese and Wernick have managed to stumble upon a perfect blend of zombie horror and gore, side-splitting comedy, and above all, a tremendous amount of just plain fun. Right from the get-go, you’re exposed to the subtle aura of intelligence that hovers so modestly over the entire script, what with Eisenberg’s character Columbus promptly introducing us to his thoughtful list of survival “rules” that offers a few laughs as well some refreshing insight on several zombie movie clichés we’ve familiarized ourselves with over time.
Another welcome surprise Zombieland puts forth in this regard is without a doubt its cast of eccentric, thoroughly fleshed out characters. While the film does sport a more than favorable amount of zombie violence and gore, often portrayed via expertly crafted instances of slow motion hilarity, we’re also offered just the right amount of character development that further allows us to be engrossed by the film’s every detail. In fact, the only exception to this, and just about my only qualm with the film, is essentially the sometimes lackluster CGI in relation to the already stupendous instances of run-and-gun zombie mayhem. Oddly enough, this minor flaw is almost entirely forgivable thanks to how unbelievably hilarious Zombieland truly is, from countless witty exchanges of dialogue between characters to a cameo to end all cameos, of which I won’t spoil for you for obvious reasons.
As for the film’s cast, Zombieland once again finds solace in the efforts provided by a troupe of wonderful actors. Harrelson’s no surprise in this regard, but his constant interaction with the always delightful Jesse Eisenberg and his character Columbus’ reserved, almost wimpy demeanor is almost worth the price of admission itself. Needless to say, Harrelson’s Tallahassee and his portrayal of the macho gun-toting badass is hilarious and manages to strike a perfect balance between his character and his nerdy counterpart. Even Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin bring a substantial amount to the table as a pair of two-timing sisters in search of the California-situated theme park Pacific Playland and it’s supposed zombie-free status, effectively rounding off an already stupendous cast.
To put it plainly, Zombieland can safely be considered the most fun I’ve had at the theater in a long time. Having been a fan of the sometimes trite zombie genre for quite some time, I can assure you it’s always a pleasure to stumble upon a film such as this that borderline reinvents it. From nonstop campy horror violence and a simply superb sense of humor to an altogether wonderful cast of characters, Fleischer really managed to hit every note with this hidden gem. I’ll even go so far as to say those who wouldn’t normally consider themselves fans of the genre will have an absolute blast, despite several minor instances of laughable visual effects.