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Is there anything more fun than watching Woody Harrelson annihilate a horde of the walking dead?  Not too much this year.  Slight, but wry, witty and a lot of fun, Zombieland is a last gasp of summer silliness that is welcome in the days before the big drama-heavy, late-fall Oscar push.

Every gameís gotta have rules, and when the prize for winning happens to be the ability to live another day, those rules are best adhered to carefully.  The young man known to us only as Columbus (- named for his ultimate destination) gives us some quick exposition about the disease that began its life in some mad cows and wound up making mad zombies of the entire human race.  The nerdish fellow gives us his rock solid rules for surviving a zombie attack that helpfully pop up onto the screen as they are either enacted or woefully unheeded with undeadly results.  This zombie apocalypse has left only a handful of survivors across the nation, each as wary as the other and all seeking a mythical zombie-free destination.  It is on his way to find his parents in Ohio that Columbus first runs into Tallahassee, a cowboy in a Mad Max-ed out Escalade.  The two form a tetchy alliance with the chattering, cautious Columbus the polar opposite of the wild, gun-happy Tallahassee, who thinks nothing about facing dozens of gory undead with little more than sports and gardening equipment in his unending quest for his favourite snack food.  Itís while on the hunt for a Twinkie that Columbus and Tallahassee are conned badly by two sister survivors who steal their ride and ammo and leave them for dead repeatedly.  Giving safety in numbers a shot, the guys join the girls on their journey to the place where the youngest of their little group, the worldly-wise tween Little Rock, was last happy, Pacific Playland, yet another alleged safe haven from the constant threat of the cannibal undead.

Director Ruben Fleischer gives us speedy, mindless zombies that gush black blood from meat-dripping maws and loads of gooey, stringy intestines and membranes everywhere.  He laces such gruesome sights with a sharp and quirky script. (- Bill Murray? Whaaa?)  Not a lot of care is given to the believability of their quest:  The whole idea of turning on all the lights and bells and whistles at an amusement park mere miles away from where you just finished running for your life from a zombie horde and thinking nothing bad will happen is really stupid.  That sequence was fun to watch, but at this stage in cinema the really terrifying climactic event in an amusement park is itself an undead premise.  Whatever; as a completely nihilistic kill-all-the-zombies popcorn-munching fiesta, Zombieland is full of win.  Woody Harrelson really gets a chance to do some cannibalism of his own, munching the script and everything around it and itís hilarious to watch.  As Tallahassee, the whack-job cowboy who really, really hates zombies, Harrelson is having a great time firing a variety of guns and gleefully dispatching all comers.  Jesse Eisenberg plays the nebbishy Columbus, the least likely survivor of a zombie holocaust. Eisenberg is sweet and earnest as the nerd-next-door whose only ambition with the opposite sex is to gently push a lock of hair over a girlís ear. AwwwÖ Though seemingly made for this type of role, Eisenberg runs the risk of becoming the poor manís version of Michael Cera, who could have easily played this character.  Emma Stone is beguiling in darker locks, raccoon eye make-up and go-go boots as the treacherous and practical Wichita and Abigail Breslinís wry line deliveries, particularly in her passenger side chats with Harrelson about Miley Cyrus, show why she is the most promising child star today.

Neither as hilarious as 2004ís Shaun of the Dead, nor as harrowing as Zack Snyderís Dawn of the Dead remake also from 2004, Zombieland carves out a niche in between by utilising clever pop culture references and fast pacing to create an unexpectedly droll horror comedy that makes for a good time at the movies.

 

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

Oct 1st, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

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Photos

(Courtesy of  Sony Pictures)

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