TNTM: Zombieland


Man, have you seen Zombieland, yet?  Well, you don’t need to rush.  It’s pretty good, but I would have have enjoyed it as much on DVD.

Zombieland is the new zom-rom-com from some people I’m not bothering to look up.  Obviously, it garners comparisons to “Shaun of the Dead,” which is okay since they are both funny and about zombies.  But funny in different ways.  Also (SPOILER ALERT) Zombieland has Bill Murray in it.  Got that going for it.

Anyway, let me get my rant out of the way.  People keep talking about how Shaun of the Dead was the first romantic comedy with zombies, and Zombieland is kind of a ripoff.  Okay, first, by the standards of “romantic comedy” set by both these movies, Return of the Living Dead is the first romantic zombie comedy I know of, followed by Dead Alive.  I would argue Dead Alive to be a bit more romantic than RotLD, but RotLD carries the “black” comedy as well (it’s humor far more subversive than ZL or SotD).  I s’pose DA (INITIALS ARE AWESOME!) is BC as well, but WE.

Also:  The humor in both movies is so different.  SotD is so very…British.  The humor is dry and witty and stoic and depressing.  The humor in ZL is so American with its slapstickiness.  And montage.  Oh, montage.  Battleship Potemkin had no idea what it unleashed on the world with those damn stairs.

Zombieland was very satisfying.  It tells the tale of a young nerd who is surviving in the post-zombie world as he meets strange and wonderful companions and Bill Murray.  There’s a girl involved.  It’s pretty interesting.  I found myself more shocked that Abigail Breslin was in it than Bill Murray, to be honest.

Well, Jesse Eisenberg plays the “lead,” as it were.  He’s pretty good.  I regret never having watched “Adventureland” mostly because I paid for the rental.  No time.  Anyway, the only problem is that I keep remembering the movie with Michael Cera in the lead, which I think Eisenberg would find incredibly depressing.  He gets the job done, though.

Woody Harrelson is the epic in this picture, though.  My God.  This man has the best comedic timing of all the Woody Harrelson’s I’ve ever seen.  I was very much hoping the celebrity house they crash in the film would be that of a caracatured Woody Harrelson.  Anyway.  He delivers most of the raw comedy and, surprisingly, the most heartfelt scene.

The two girls were two girls.  They didn’t add much.  Both were capable.  Abigail Breslin?  Really?  That’s pretty crazy.  This girl must have a sweet agent or a solid head for comedy.  Last I knew, she was Kitt Kittredge.  Emma Stone really does deliver her character well, but Emma Stone drives me crazy.  Like, her voice or something.  Which is too bad because when she was impersonating Janine in the Ghostbusters scene, she was dead on.  The girl has some comedic chops for sure, but I’m not totally sold on her.

The romantic aspect of the movie?  Lame.  Anybody calling this a rom-zom-com is mistaken.  The rom is in there like it’s in Animal House.  Animal House is not a Romantic Comedy.

I also just (right now) read this review with Woody Harrelson (veggie!) and it said critics were calling Zombieland a sleeper hit, which is (I try to avoid swearing in my blog, because Google can destroy your career, so pretend I did and that I tacked on an offensive euphemism as well) inaccurate.  I’ve known about this movie for ages and the Internet hype has been HUGE.  These are apparently critics who have never heard of a “computer.”  I trust ’em.

Well, the good:  The jokes hit.  The stuff that is supposed to be funny is funny.  Just good comedic funny.  There’s no real creep-outs with the zombies or anything like that and the drama doesn’t get too high.  Woody is amazingly funny.  I feel he’s highly underrated as a performer.    The Bill Murray cameo was amazingly funny – Bill being a king of comedic mastery.  Several of the “kills” are highly inventive and the gore is kept fairly minimal.

Woody’s scene when we find out his son has died is well done by him as well, and sets up a good Eisenberg line later on.  This Eisenberg line comes out really well and I didn’t feel an ounce of cheese in it because he delivered it so well.  Props be to him for that.

On screen text must be mentioned as it was quite entertaining.  Excellent use of captioning throughout with these bits.  They are the source of some great funny bits.

So what’s bad?  Well, the scene where we find out Woody’s son has died is right after Bill Murray dies (humorously) and seems out of sync with the rest of the movie.  Part of why we care so much is because it’s juxtaposed with that scene, but there’s not really any other scenes that make the same kind of statement.  The scene works, but only just.

I’m not a huge fan of Woody’s twinkie subplot which I found rather stupid.  Perhaps I am supposed to.  But I could have done without it.

Overall, it is hard for me to explain.  I like RotLD and SotD better, but I can’t quite put my finger on the “why.”  I think part of it is all the clever things ZL brings up and then we never see again.  Like the “Zombie Kill of the Week.”  We see it once with the neat logo and never again.  It would have been nice to see it once more later on, perhaps when our Columbus whacks zombies with a amusement park ride.

Columbus (that’s Eisenberg, btw) has this voice over in a lot of the movie and I think it really, really, gets over used.  It’s good at the start, but it gets annoying quickly.  I am a minimalist, generally, so that’s me talking, but it could be a big chunk.

Anyway, even non-zombie fans would probably enjoy this flick.  So, go see it.  Or not,  Whatever.

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