Since the drive-in days of the ‘50s and ‘60s, zombie movies have become a genre unto themselves, launching the careers of filmmakers like George Romero. In the 40-50 years of zombie movies, there have been a variety of takes from the serious like “Night of the Living Dead” or “28 Days Later” to the not so serious like “Shaun of the Dead.” “Zombieland” is definitely in this latter category. You could consider it an Americanized “Shaun” relying more on gags than the dry wit of its British counterpart.
As you’d guess from the title or the previews, the movie is about a world that has been overrun by zombies. How this happened isn’t made entirely clear. There’s vague mentions of something like mad cow disease that turned people into flesh-eating ghouls. Most normal people have been wiped out, but not a young man known only as Columbus (Michael Cera clone Jesse Eisenberg) who lived mainly because he’s a paranoid shut-in. In order survive, Columbus lives by a series of rules that are often repeated throughout the movie. Rule #1 is Cardio as in staying in shape to flee from zombies. There are rules about being careful when using the bathroom (where zombies like to trap their prey) and wearing your seatbelt. Most importantly is not forming attachments to anyone.
This rule is seriously challenged first when Columbus is picked up by Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) a professional zombie killer who is searching for a Twinkie. This search leads them to a supermarket where they meet the con girl sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) who are on their way to Pacific Playland outside LA where supposedly there are no zombies and where the girls went before the zombie apocalypse. The girls appropriate Tallahassee’s truck and weapons before the boys catch up to them and they decide to all go together.
The movie is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. There’s a lot of running and killing zombies. Tallahassee doesn’t just shoot them; he uses everything from a banjo to hedge clippers in his quest for Zombie Kill of the Week. Between zombie battles is a lot of fun humor, especially a scene involving Bill Murray. This humor is far more obvious than “Shaun of the Dead,” which makes it much easier for American audiences.
Overall this is a fun, albeit short movie coming in at just about 85 minutes. According to IMDB there’s already a sequel in production that I hope can match the fun of this one.
That is all.
My score: 75/100 (3 stars)
Metacritic score: 73/100 (3 stars)