Zombieland is a fast-paced, funny action flick that will have you on the edge of your seat and possibly doubled over with laughter. In under 90 minutes, it manages to completely satisfy and entertain and leave you with some lasting images you probably aren't likely to forget anytime soon. Not to mention it features Bill Murray in one of the best cameos (he's playing a version of himself) since Neil Patrick Harris dropped in to Harold and Kumar's car. The cast is at the top of their game, Woody Harrelson in particular is fantastic, the script is tight and entertaining and the film's director (Ruben Fleischer) did a great job with pacing and with giving the film a different and distinct look.
Personally, I was prepared for this film to just be a knockoff of one of my favorites, Shaun of the Dead, given that it was tackling pretty much the same subject matter. However, it has its own distinctive take on the comedy/horror genre, and what I got was so much more than a knockoff that I couldn't have been more pleased. I was especially delighted to leave my screening and see that there were swarms of people dressed as zombies in some sort of contest afterwards. It added a whole bit of surrealism to the experience.
Jesse Eisenberg plays Columbus, a nerdy neurotic type who, before a zombie virus infected the entire earth kept to himself and played video games all day long. In fact, he was so out of touch with the human race that he let his hot zombified neighbor into his apartment unwittingly because he was just so desperate for an opportunity to be loved. In this apocalyptic world, he's forced to invent a string of rules in order to say alive. Rule 1: Cardio, simply be able to outrun fat people in a zombie attack. Rule 2: Double Tap, don't be afraid to shoot a zombie twice, just to make sure they are really dead. Rule 3: Beware of bathrooms... this one you'll have to see for yourself. All I have to say is... poor Mike White.
Anyway, the rules go on and on, and are cleverly displayed on the screen. Columbus is struggling along trying to exist when he meets the slightly insane, zombie-killing machine known as Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). He's rugged, loves cars and weapons about equally, has a fondness for Twinkies, believes in destroying things to burn off steam and really relishes in finding new and disturbing ways to kill the flesh-eating undead. The duo meet up with sister act Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Wichita (Emma Stone), who make their living running cons. The girls are headed for Pacific Playland, an amusement park outside of Los Angeles that is rumored to be zombie free, and through a series of hoodwinking events, the guys end up tagging along with them. Along the way, they end up at Bill Murray's house, trashing a gift shop at an Indian reservation and killing an awful lot of zombies.
There are just some fantastically gruesome zombie deaths, zombies of all shapes and sizes (the preteen girls dressed in enormous pastel dresses attacking a mini-van were my favorites), some amazing slow-motion shots and I loved the scene of Woody Harrelson on a rollercoaster picking off zombies with a shotgun like they were ducks at a shooting range more than I can even possibly explain. While I'm not a huge fan of Harrelson (I usually don't care about him particularly one way or another) he really won me over here. His role had a surprising amount of heart, a lot of aggression and nearly every word that came out of his mouth made me laugh, especially his catchphrase, "Nut up or shut up."
While I love the haunting Dawn of the Dead-type zombie films and the scarier versions of the apocalypse, it was thoroughly enjoyable just to watch people doing whatever it takes to survive, and having fun while doing it. I wanted more, but thankfully, as with most horror movies, the ending was open ended enough to leave leeway for a sequel. Can someone please make that instead of Saw XXII?