Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I told you to watch out for that mad cow disease, DIDN'T  I? Well, if I didn't, I thought about it. But you kept stuffing that crappy fast food down your gullet--and NOW,  in Zombieland, most of the world's inhabitants have turned into marauding, cannibalistic you-know-whats.  

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is one of the few "normal" people left. He's a nervous, hypervigilant young dude with a laundry list of common sense rules to help him stay one step ahead of the zombies. Like: Always DOUBLE TAP the suckers to make sure they're out of commission. He teams up with Tallahassee, (Woody Harrelson) who only wants to go by the names of everyone's home towns because he doesn't want to get too familiar. Tallahassee is a swaggering drifter who relishes in the art of smashing and bashing zombies in various creative ways. He's also scouring the country to find the last edible Twinkie. ( You'll never take Twinkies for granted again!)  For all they know, the two of them might be the last remnants of humanity--until they meet up with Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock, (Abigail Breslin) two young sisters who con them out of their wheels and take off hell-bent for Naugahyde.  Now, the guys not only have to run the gauntlet of zombies coming at them from all sides--they have to find those little double crossing grifters as well.

When I first saw the trailer for Zombieland,  I almost dismissed it as total B-movie trash. DON'T MAKE THAT MISTAKE. (I should have known that Woody Harrelson--not only a good actor but a fine, conscientious human being--wouldn't steer me wrong.) This is a funny, clever, inventive piece of film making that shows that just because the drooling, snarling, disgusting un-dead are lurking behind every crapper stall door, (and you thought the scariest  thing you'd encountered in there was when the previous occupant forgot to flush)  it doesn't mean a zombie flick can't also be poignant and life-affirming as well. Zombieland will blaze new trails for the sub-genre: There'll be the zombie romantic comedy, (starring Sandra Bullock, of course) the zombie doctor drama, (Katherine Heigl) etc.

Harrelson is a natural for the role of Tallahassee, a swashbuckler in the mold of Indiana Jones--a guy you'd definitely want to have on your side. Eisenberg,  (Adventureland)  who is 26, easily passes as the nerdy kid just out of high school--it has served him well in these roles--but he's in danger of being typecast. Emma Stone's Wichita has the street smarts that only a young  girl who's been out there surviving day to day can develop. And 12-year old Abigail Breslin  (Little Miss Sunshine) is a precocious young actress who is going to be the next Jodie Foster, or Drew Barrymore...or, maybe, Gary Coleman.

But what truly puts Zombieland over the top is a cameo by one of the biggest superstars of comedy. I won't give anything away, except to say that it surely is his most inventive, deliciously off-the wall turn to date.

There's little speculation here about how these four might survive the long haul in a world where everyone else out there wants to eat you. They live in the moment--eternally on guard like zebras sharing a water hole with lions--but they've got each other...and I wouldn't bet against them.