Review of Zombieland
Thursday, I was talked into watching Zombieland (2009 dir. Ruben Fleischer) for the first time. Despite its flaws, the film is quite enjoyable.
Jesse Eisenberg stars as Columbus, a college student at UT who is trekking through “Zombieland”- a United States that has become overrun with zombies (people infected by mutated mad cow disease)- heading for Columbus, Ohio to discover the fate of his parents. Along the way, Columbus meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a crazy drifter, and con artist sisters Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin). The quartet eventually forms a form of family as they road trip to Los Angeles and Pacific Playland.
In many ways, this notion of family is key to the film as all of the four journey because of family: Columbus to discover the fate of his parents, Tallahassee to avenge his son’s death (and to eat the Last Twinkie on Earth), and the sisters to recapture a moment of childhood bliss. Together, they form an alternative, perhaps final, family as seemingly the last four uninfected people in the U.S. (Bill Murray cameos as himself before being killed by Columbus).
To my mind, there are several different genres at play here: the disaster comedy, the theme park comedy, the teen-college comedy, and the road trip comedy. Some of these are done better than others. The strongest, to me, is the road trip and theme park aspects. The conflicts between the four characters are often hilarious to watch, especially Tallahassee’s interactions with the other characters (Harrelson is chewing the scenery big time). And of course, the final scene at Pacific Playland (and the name Zombieland) lends a strong sense that the entire movie is a sort of theme park, an exaggerated haunted house that at is more fun than scare.
The weakest part of the film for me is the teen/ college comedy aspect. I love Eisenberg’s performance, but did we really need a Ceraesque character? Aren’t there other types to use besides the hapless nerd/ geek?
On the whole, this was a fun movie that could have used with a few more dead zombies.