Sunday, February 14, 2010

Zombieland: Grade C


Zombieland (2009)

Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, with Bill Murray; Director Reuben Fleischer.

A young man (Eisenberg) is a lone survivor in a future America where a virus has turned everyone into flesh-eating zombies. He begins a journey to see if his parents are alive. Along the way he hitches a ride from a tough-guy zombie killer (Harrelson) and they develop an uneasy friendship as they drive across country, killing zombies and searching for a Hostess Twinkie, the tough’s favorite food. They encounter two young women (Stone and Breslin) who eventually join them and so it is a road trip where paranoia gradually fades, and trust, even real affection slowly develops among the survivors. Inevitably, the women get trapped by a huge pack of zombies and have to be rescued by the men in a glorious slaughter.

The movie is really a romantic comedy that just happens to have zombies in it. As a comedy, it is similar to Shaun of the Dead, and the romantic and friendship relationships make the characters more than just cartoons. Woody Harrelson plays his Crocodile Dundee character to a T. Eisenberg has some funny, ironic lines as the “sensitive” zombie killer. Breslin is there to be cute, and does that. Stone, I thought, was directed poorly. Her character has a gothic look, not too bright or expressive, which doesn’t add much. Maybe she is just not as strong an actor as the others.

There are plenty of funny lines and visual gags. The action is kinetic, the characters interesting. Plus you have some good special effects with the zombie gore as they eat their victims. But bottom line, it is a dumb story and the comedy angle has already been done better, and how many zombie films can there be, anyway? As a me-too movie, it is amusing but not inspired. It will appeal to boys under 18.

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