Monday, October 5, 2009

Mob Zombies

Zombieland is the best summer action film of the year, so naturally it was released in October. This little movie about badass Woody Harrelson teaming up with some dweeb who manages to come up with a workable strategy for surviving the end of the world totally kicks the collective asses of Hasbro, Marvel Comics and Michael Bay. I've said many times how sick and tired I am of zombie movies because they're all the same. This is the same too, except it's different.

These aren't George Romero "Undead who shamble along and only manage to kill anyone because people in the movie pretty much walk into their mouths" zombies. No, these are more Danny Boyle "Infected humans turn into crazed cannibals" zombies which means that, technically, they're not even really zombies at all since they're still alive but that doesn't stop people in the movie from calling them zombies pretty much nonstop. I thought about standing up and yelling, "THEY'RE ALIVE! THEY'RE NOT ZOMBIES," but then remembered that I'm not an anal retentive goob and simply enjoyed the rest of the film.

Zombieland follows four characters who don't give their real names in an attempt to keep from getting emotionally involved with people they meet who could become zombie food at any moment and instead call each other by their birthplace. Jesse Eisenberg (probably best known for the movie Who The Hell Is Jesse Eisenberg?) plays Columbus, a poor man's Michael Cera who combined his intellect with his social misfit skills to actually manage not only to survive but to thrive in the zombie infested Apocalypse. He develops a set of rules that pop up on the screen whenever he uses one. For instance, zombies, like all horror movie monsters, like to hide in the backseats of cars and reveal themselves after you've started driving thus one of his rules is "Always check the backseat."

On his travels, Columbus meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson at his most badass), a guy who really seems to love the idea of being able to legally shoot people. I should take that back. He'll use a gun if he has to but he'd rather use whatever else happens to be handy such as a bat or a banjo. They meet up with two other survivors. Wichita (Emma Stone), possibly the world's last hot girl and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin at her most adorable, even when she's calling Columbus a pussy). The girls were con artists before the infection broke out and saw no reason to change tactics after the world ended so they successfully manage to trick Columbus and Tallahassee out of their vehicle and supplies. Of course, they meet up again further down the road and we find out that the girls have an insane idea to go to an amusement park in Los Angeles due to some obviously B.S. rumor that there are no zombies there. Still, if they didn't go there the movie would have no third act so off they go.

The movie is loaded with jokes and could be classified simultaneously as a zombie movie and a parody of zombie movies. On his Twitter feed, writer/producer John Rogers accurately described it as the first postmodern zombie movie. I'll add that it's about as light-hearted and feel-good as a movie about the end of the world can be. Best part of the movie: when they get to Los Angeles, they meet Bill Murray. It's really him playing himself. In fact, he's the only character I can remember who has a name that isn't a city, unless there's a Bill Murray, Wyoming I don't know about. I don't want to give too much away but I do want to tell people to be sure to sit through the end credits in their entirety, especially if you are a Caddyshack fan.

Zombieland was a really good time. Movies like that are why I show up at theaters week after week panning through the slime and muck that isG.I. Joe and Halloween II in order to find a little gold nugget called Zombieland. Now, I can go back to bitching about the 8000 other zombie movies currently in development.

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