The only good zombie is a dead zombie … wait, aren’t they already dead? If they aren’t at the start of Zombieland, they sure will be by the end, in delightfully gruesome, disgusting ways. The question is, will the only four humans we meet survive the onslaught of killer clowns, little princess party ghouls, and bathroom stall-disrespecting zombies who don’t understand the word “Occupied”? (Where was one of the latter flesh-eaters when we needed him to spare us the whole Larry Craig debacle – I’m just asking?!)
Ruben Fleisher’s Zombieland is a funny, sick, gross-out Halloween treat with a ton of tricks up its sleeve. Some people might carp about the zombie carnage to survivor-bonding scene ratio, but for me, Zombieland hits a pretty good mix.
Jesse Eisenberg plays Columbus (everyone’s called by their hometowns here in Zombieland), who schools us on the rules of survival in post-apocalyptic America. Rule number one: cardio, because once Mad Cow disease leapt from an infected burger to an infected human, people began turning into fast moving flesh-junkies, and you better be able to outrun them. Other rules the terminally virginal guy teaches us in short order is to wear your seatbelt, limber up, check the backseat, don’t be a hero, and the ever-useful “double-tap” – don’t be stingy with your bullets and always shoot a zombie twice.
Columbus meets Tallahassee (a hilarious Woody Harrelson), a macho redneck zombie killer extraordinaire. They fall prey to a couple of con-artist sisters, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), in sweet Wile E. Coyote fashion, setting off a cross-country chase.
Ultimately, when faced with a rabid, insane mob of subhuman monsters (not unlike the Right Wing tea-baggers) you’ve got to stick together. The rest of the film careens to a climax at the Pacific Playland Amusement Park (supposedly a zombie-free zone), with a stop for a truly priceless star cameo.
Zombieland is an instant classic in the zombie genre, with enough gore, laughs and smart writing to send the summer off in style. And never forget rule #32: always enjoy the little things.
UPDATE: Zombieland is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.com.
Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.