By: Judson Rusk
I don’t know how, but I somehow completely overlooked this film until about two weeks ago. I had no idea that this movie even existed until I saw a trailer for it in front of 9. I felt so stupid for having not heard of this movie because it looked so awesome! The next movie I went to see was Gamer (review coming soon), and the best part of the movie going experience was that I got a free Zombieland poster when I walked into the theater. It is up on my wall now next to the Blood Harvest poster from Left 4 Dead (I kind of have a zombie thing going in my hallway). So after a very brief but very intense period of waiting to see this film, I finally got to last night. I can tell you that Zombieland was exactly what it looked like it would be.
The plot is weak at best. It’s not deep, there really isn’t any development of a story, and absolutely nothing unexpected happens in this movie. It was very predictable. Only briefly did they ever talk about how the zombies came to be and that brief statement was never elaborated on. There is no ultimate goal in this film. It is more a documentation of three days in the life of a gang of survivors which, granted, ends on an up note, but still doesn’t give the feeling of closure to the zombie problem. So it’s pretty obvious that I have a large list of things that I think, in comparison to some other films, sucked about this movie. But did I hate it?
Hell no! This movie was so incredibly awesome. I honestly don’t remember the last time I went to the theater to see a comedy that made me legitimately laugh that hard. My stomach hurt by the end of this movie. And it was because I was laughing, un-like Wolverine where I hurt out of disgust and embarrassment. This movie was fun, and enjoyable by everyone.
A lot of my friends, mostly Calvin, get angry at me for not being able to “look past the flaws in a movie and just enjoy it for what it is.” They claim that is why I didn’t like G.I. Joe. I of course disagree with that, claiming that I can and frequently do “look past” these things and enjoy sub-par film, and this is proof of that. I’ve already listed all the things about Zombieland that could point out why this movie should have blown hard, but it didn’t affect my liking of the movie. Zombieland isn’t trying to be a smart, deep, thinking man’s movie. It is meant as a playful, funny satire on the horror genre, and it accomplishes that hands down. Not only do they not develop the characters in this movie, but they make a point of it. They show you over and over that they are purposing not giving you any back story to anyone because it keeps the atmosphere and feel of the movie more light and playful. This movie wouldn’t be nearly as good if they had made you give a damn about the character’s families and such. We only want this person, in this situation, killing zombies, right now. And that is what Zombieland delivers. Did I care that I had no idea where the zombies came from? No, not really. They were there, they were bloody, and people liked to shoot them. Who gives a damn how an infected hamburger had a hand in creating them? Does the end of the movie give an up-lifting feel that the zombie problem is going to be fixed somehow? Nope. And I couldn’t care any less about that because at least I got to see some mega bad-ass zombie killing sequences set in an abandoned theme park.
This movie is hands down one of the best feel good movies I have ever seen in m entire life. Now, I completely understand that my definition of “feel good” differs from what most people think. Up until now, the most feel good sequence in any movie that I had ever seen was in the movie 8 Legged Freaks. Nothing makes me happier than to see all those punk ass, douche bag kids on dirt bikes get picked off one by one by giant, mutant, jumping spiders all set to loud rock music. Every time I see that I just feel good about myself. I want to get up, pump my fist at the screen and just yell as loud as I can. But Zombieland, it’s not just one sequence. The entire movie makes me feel like that. The opening credit sequence is multiple shots of zombies in various states of either killing or being killed in different comedic situations. They are all in slow motion and the entire thing is set to Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Oh man, that was awesome. The movie had only been on for a matter of minutes and I already had enough adrenaline pumping through me that I just wanted to stand up, punch the guy next to me, slap his girlfriend’s ass, and then start a mosh pit. Instead, I opted for just watching the rest of the movie quietly from my seat.
The art direction is very campy, but it fits so well with the movie that it actually does add to the whole effect. The main character, Columbus, has a list of rules to survive Zombieland. These include, among many others: Cardio, Beware of Bathrooms, Double Tap, Wear your Seatbelt, and Don’t be a Hero. And every time one of these rules comes into play during the movie, giant text appears on screen telling you which rule was just used. Most of the time, campy crap like that really pisses me off. But in Zombieland, it just seemed to work.
This movie is completely full of pop culture references both fairly recognizable and some that are pretty bizarre. Among my favorites are the Aqua Teen Hunger Force posters in the background of various scenes and the constant references to completely un-related movies. Zombieland also has one of the most blatant yet best uses of a cameo appearance since the live action Rocky and Bullwinkle movie. Bill Murray shows up in the middle of this movie to play a zombie but not zombie version of himself. Of course, even though he isn’t a zombie, our hero Columbus guns him down in his own home because, well..., because it was funny. It’s as simple as that.
I had to save the best for last. Thank god for the return of Woody Harrelson! His character in this movie is awesome, almost iconic. Like, a more humorous, zombie killing version of himself in Natural Born Killers. His quest to kill as many zombies as possible while destroying anything he wants all backed by an unquenchable hunger for a twinkie, is hilarious to say the least. The first time you see Harrelson in this movie he pulls a gun on our main character, then soon after offers him a ride, then calls him a bitch. It just makes you know that you are going to like everything that he does. And I did. Thoroughly.
I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys having fun. If you are anything like me though, you should keep an eye out in the theater and sit next to the scrawniest guy with the hottest girlfriend, because you are definitely going to feel the urge to kick some ass while watching this movie. This might be my favorite movie that I have seen so far this entire year.