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Zombieland (2009)

October 21, 2009

8/10 Brain Sandwiches

As someone who’s all too prepared for the zombie apocalypse and all too excited by the prospect of how much fun it’s gonna be, yeah, I had a freakin’ time with this one. Oh, and it’s also the funniest movie of ’09.

Zombieland goes like this: somewhere along the way someone got a mean case of the swine flu because they don’t wash after flushing, now America is overrun by zombies and only a few normal human folk are left standing. The unlikely hero of our story is a sheltered, World-of-Warcraft-playing, prude of a kid that hitches up with three other zombie killin’ eccentric individuals on his way back home from college.

After watching a countless number of zombie horror movies over the years, it’s quite refreshing to find a movie in this vein that for once is filled with characters that finally don’t insist on doing stupid shit at the worst times. There are rules to surviving these kinds of situations, rules that a surprising amount of people have failed to comprehend in similar circumstances, simple rules like these:

1. Don’t get sentimental with the zombies and start thinking that they’re real people. Just kill them, end of story.

2. Always be ready for a zombie to come in and bite your ass when you least expect it.

3. Yes, you should shoot them in the head again. It’s worth the bullet.

The list goes on, but the great thing about the survivors in Zombieland is they wrote the damn list and follow it to a tee.

God, what a breath of fresh air.

For some reason I wasn’t all that excited about this movie when I first saw the trailer for it, but I ended up liking it a lot more than I did once I brought myself to dish out the criminal New York City cost of 12 bucks to the local theater. Thought for sure this was going to be a 7 out of 10 at best, but a couple wonderful things surprised me about this here horror comedy.

The script is actually really good. The characters are really well-written and are all stockpiled with great one-liners to complement their entertaining quirks, the plot is filled with shit that you would actually do if the world was taken over by zombies, like walking into an antique shop and destroying everything in sight with nothing but positive repercussions, and it’s just fun. More horror movie could afford to take the zombie apocalypse a little less seriously and take advantage of the fact that zombie killing would be awesome! Just don’t be an idiot and get bitten. Simple as that.

So it’s got that going for it, but the cast also helps out a lot. The main character is played by Jesse Eisenberg, and I think I’m finally sold. I like Jesse Eisenberg. Wasn’t sure about it for a while, but he’s pretty solid and comes off as one of the more refreshingly normal young actors out there right now. Well done, Jesse, you da’ man.

Emma Stone is also good here as a fellow survivor/apple of Eisenberg’s eye, and since the only other thing I’ve seen her in is Superbad, looks like she’s on a roll at the moment. Well done, as well. Abigail Breslin plays her younger sister, and while she’s good, too, she’s gonna have to up her game if she’s trying to distance herself from always being rememberd as “that girl from Little Miss Sunshine“. Killing zombies doesn’t quite cut it, unfortunately.

And this movie just confirms even more why I like Woody Harrelson. He plays the veteran zombie killer of the group and he plays it like he’s having one hell of a good time. What I like about Woody is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously and seems like the kind of dude that I would thoroughly enjoy hanging out with. He’s good when he’s serious (The People vs. Larry Flynt) and he’s good when he’s not (White Men Can’t Jump), and I’d be damned if he doesn’t have a glint in his eyes that says, “I’ve got life figured out, and life is very, very sweet.” He kicks ass here, he’s hilarious, and more people need to give love to Woody.

But the biggest reason this movie got an 8 and why it’s an easy front-runner for funniest movie of the year leads back to a big surprise cameo by an actor I can’t name because not only would it spoil the surprise but it seems like no one else is revealing it either. Just trust me on this one, it’s the best part of the movie and it will have you howling just like I did. For those who know, feel free to leave a comment about how fucking awesome this was.

Might be the greatest movie cameo of all time. Yup, I went there. Feel free to argue that.

Anyway, while Zombieland is well worth the price of admission just for this cameo alone, this is still a wildly entertaining movie that I’d be happy to watch again. Only complaint is that it’s not exactly scary, but it’s definitely gory and will satisfy horror fans to a certain degree even though it won’t have anyone messing themselves. All the same, a small complaint in relation to everything else that works really, really well. It’s no Shaun of the Dead, but it’s still one of the funniest horror movies I’ve seen since.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. bradcole permalink
    October 21, 2009 12:33 am

    Nice review and I entirely agree with you on the cameo being a great laugh. It is definitely one of the better cameos I can recall. I have to disagree with the criticism that it is not scary enough. I’m not saying its a scary movie just that I didn’t go in expecting it to be scary so I wasn’t disappointed. I actually am somewhat glad it wasn’t too scary so I could recommend it to my fright-averse family.

  2. October 21, 2009 2:57 am

    Haven’t seen it yet, but hope to soon.
    I love Little Miss Sunshine (but then again, who doesn’t?), but ever since that, Abigail Breslin is just plain annoying.
    She has such a cockiness about her that just pisses me of. A friend of mine says she’s not gonna be around for much longer. The more I think about it, the more I agree.

  3. October 21, 2009 9:39 am

    Enjoyed this one a lot, went to see it with my brother the weekend it came out. The cameo is awesome, and while I felt the movie was a tad too episodic, that certainly didn’t hurt the movie at all. Lots of fun and a cool way of dealing with zombies.

  4. Branden permalink
    October 21, 2009 3:32 pm

    I loved your review, Aiden, especially the second paragraph. LOL!

    I heard about the cameo for different podcast before seeing it. When it came up, I guffawed! I almost said, “Fuck yeah!” It was awesome.

    I forgot to bring this up on my review of the film. Zombieland is like Scream. There is one character that lists the rules of surviving to the end of the movie.

    P.S. Go to a matinee. It’s much cheaper, but you have to deal with old biddes yanking about what’s happening onscreen.

  5. October 22, 2009 5:31 am

    Top review! And the first one I’ve read that doesn’t compare it to Sean of the Dead, which it’s totally not!!! Everyone in the world seems to love Bill Murray way more than me though, thought that bit was just some filler. Woody had one of the best roles in recent cinema history… who wouldn’t want to be him?!!?!?

  6. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    October 22, 2009 4:39 pm

    Come time for the Best of 2009 list, might be WAY controversial and put this on my list — scene for scene, I can’t name another movie (aside from “Bruno”) that I enjoyed more. There’s buckets of blood and gore, Woody Harrelson going “Deliverance” on zombies and Jesse Eisenberg making sadly funny wisecracks. Oh, and don’t forget the cameo. This might be the perfect zombie movie.


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