Ruben Fleischer’s feature film debut Zombieland is a hilarious and entertaining film with its lead performers firing on all cylinders. With a running time of only about 80 minutes, this is a film that doesn’t try to be more than it is: pure entertainment. There are a lot of horror movies out there that take their ridiculous subject matters way too seriously; Zombieland is not one of those films. One might be reluctant to believe that this is a smart script from Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, but it truly is. One of the toughest things for a script to do is realize what it is good for and not step outside those boundaries. The script from Wernick and Reese passes that test with flying colors.

This movie is really not about story at all; it’s just about style, laughs, and entertainment. We are introduced to Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) through a very effective voice-over that occurs throughout the film. The country has been taken over by zombies and just after Columbus tells us he just might be the only human left, he meets the man from Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson).

The chemistry between Eisenberg and Harrelson is perfection. Their contrasting personality types fit together perfectly on screen. The film’s first half hour is easily its strongest. We learn several of Columbus’ rules for survival and also get the pleasure of watching Tallahassee kill zombie after zombie in search for the world’s last Twinkie.

The pace of the movie slows down a little bit when the two dudes meet the two chicks. Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are traveling companions and after a few road blocks, the whole group decides to take on Zombieland together. Like I said, the pace slows down a little bit here in order to create some type of character conflict.

The film manages to regain its tempo after we are introduced to a hilarious ten minute cameo from an actor who I will not name. It is the funniest sequence in this very funny film, and from then on, Zombieland never looks back. Everything leads to the bloody and bullet-filled climax at Pacific Playland that is sure to send you out of the theater on a good note.

It’s worth noting that the performances are excellent in this film. The reliable Woody Harrelson is terrific as Tallahassee and both Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are a delight to watch. And as Columbus, Jesse Eisenberg proves once again that he is one of the best young actors in Hollywood. He gives a great follow-up performance to his genuine work in Adventureland and solidifies his status as a major talent.

It’s hard for me to say if genuine horror fans will be disappointed from this film. It certainly seemed like it was more comedy than horror to me. In fact, I don’t think I ever really felt any suspense during the film. But perhaps the gore will be enough to please the die-hards. In a time when countless horror remakes are put into production, it’s refreshing to see an entertaining and somewhat original take on a used genre.

Director Ruben Fleischer shows some remarkable talent with this debut. It takes a lot of skill to make an entertaining film out of a paper-thin story, but Fleischer pulls it off. He gets the right performances, the right amount of laughs, and the right amount of blood. It’s one hell of a time at the movies and I dare anyone to come out disappointed. 


jimmy said...

Many directors mess up every thing when they going to mix horror with comedy. But of course this zombieland is nice movie which balanced horror and comedy at the same time. Woody Harrelson (Tallahassee), Jesse Eisenberg (Columbus), Emma Stone (Wichita), Abigail Breslin (Little Rock) play main roles in this movie and though some of them too young they have acted as experienced actors.


Danny King said...

@ Jimmy: Director Ruben Fleischer does an excellent job of mixing the two genres. The acting was also spot on like you said.

Zach said...

I really enjoyed this film, even though I have never been a huge fan of Zombie films.
You can't view this one as a horror film, because I definitely don't think it was meant to be one.
I thought it was pretty hilarious and the performances were good all around.

Danny King said...

@ Zach: I agree 100% that this film needs to be looked upon primarily as a comedy. If I were to judge on a horror scale, I would say the film didn't frighten me at all. But in terms of delivering laughs, the film was right on the money.

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