In the growing horror sub-sub genre that can only be called the “zombedy” (remember where you heard that one first folks), Zombieland takes a couple of good ideas and runs them deep into the ground. Remove the zombies and what you’re left with is a generic coming of age road trip buddy flick. The plot: the zombies have taken over and a neurotic geek hooks up with a take-no-prisoners cowboy. They hit the road and learn a few things along the way about each other and, you know, life and stuff. They pick up a pair of tough sisters and everyone has to *eyeball roll* learn to trust one another.
I’m not saying this is a terrible movie, far from it. It certainly hits the ground running - a fat man running to be precise. Columbus explains to the audience how he’s managed to survive in a world of zombies. Rule #1: cardio. Fat people get bitten. Jesse Eisenberg (whoever the hell he is) has great comedic timing and he plays a solid straight man to Woody Harrelson’s wild, Twinkie-obsessed loner.
Unfortunately as it progresses it appears that they’re making it up as they go along and the list of things that irritate me accumulated. Simply put, it never really goes anywhere. (They half assedly attempt to address this philosophically by saying that everyone is running towards something but there’s nowhere to run to.) The climax occurs in an amusement park presumably because hey, that hasn’t been done before! The two sisters, for all their street smarts, make out-of-character dumb decisions so that they’re strategically placed for the finale. And most unforgivable is Bill Murray’s out of place cameo which derails the movie for a good 20 minutes. Just because Bill Murray agrees to make a cameo doesn’t mean you should devote so much time to him, especially if his inclusion doesn’t advance the story in any way. It’s amusing when he accidentally gets killed but it shouldn’t be amusing so it ends up just plain awkward. In contrast Shaun of the Dead was extremely funny (not to mention witty) but it was still grounded in reality and the death of a human character was never something to laugh at.
I suppose I could overlook all of the flaws if there was sufficient over-the-top gore that is the cornerstone of all zombie movies. Sadly I don’t recall exclaiming “ewww!” even once.
Perhaps I’m being overly critical in response to the hype surrounding this film. For an alternate opinion please refer to Catfreeek’s review. But goddammit I take my zombie movies seriously, even the funny ones. My advice is to stay home and rent Flight of the Living Dead instead.
Oh, and one last gripe – they use their catchphrase “nut up or shut up” (which really doesn’t mean anything when you think about it) not once, not twice, but thrice!