Zombieland) Zombieland (2009) **ス

     I never imagined myself saying this, but I think I知 kind of done with zombie movies. Oh, I知 not saying I値l never watch another one, but for the foreseeable future, I知 going to want prior assurance from someone I trust that I知 not going to be wasting my time. Thinking about it now, I would probably have been better served by spending the last bit of my goodwill toward flesh-eating, animate corpses on Shaun of the Dead rather than Zombieland. But I don稚 have what promises to be a Satanically awful softcore porn version of Shaun of the Dead taunting me from the depths of my 鍍o be watched pile, and that screener copy of Sean Skelding痴 Stripperland isn稚 going to review itself. I don稚 like to review parodies of things I知 not familiar with, and so here we are.

     You all know the drill by now. Weird pandemic disease; victims rise from the dead as infectious, flesh-hungry monsters; civilization collapses; a handful of mutually mistrustful survivors struggle to carry on some semblance of life in the aftermath. In Zombieland, the plague is a mutant strain of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease, if you池e averse to words of six syllables which is a charmingly plausible notion that I don稚 think I致e seen used before. Meanwhile, the first survivor we meet is about the last person you壇 ever expect to withstand an apocalypse, a timid, weak, asocial shut-in who spent the three weeks leading up to the end of the world playing video games in his apartment and chugging Mountain Dew Code Red (Jesse Eisenberg, from Cursed and The Village). His first clue that an unprecedented calamity was engulfing the world came when the 妬nsanely hot next-door neighbor whom he壇 always been too chickenshit to talk to (Amber Heard, of Drive Angry and The Stepfather) started banging on his door and screaming about being attacked by a homeless man. Evidently when the girl from apartment 406 said 殿ttacked, what she really meant was 澱itten; halfway through the night, Miss Insanely Hot started turning green, puking blood, growling like a rottweiler, and chasing our hero around his flat at 28 Days Later speed. He痴 still very sorry about bashing her head to a pulp with the lid to the toilet tank, but you致e got to do what you致e got to do, right? That was some months ago. Now the boy in unit 408 has taken it upon himself to see if there痴 anything left of the world he knew, starting with his old home town of Columbus, Ohio. It痴 going to be a long walk from Dallas, but see above RE: what you致e got to do.

     Not long after setting off, he encounters a half-crazy NASCAR fanatic in a Lord Humungus-ized Cadillac Escalade (Woody Harrelson, from Bay Coven and The Hunger Games). After staring each other down for a while with guns drawn, the pair decide to team up for as long as they can stand each other. Escalade Guy has a rule against forming attachments in this blighted world, so he insists upon neither one of them revealing their true names. Since the kid is going to Columbus, while he himself is bound for Tallahassee, Florida, Escalade Guy decrees that they shall henceforth be known to each other as Columbus and Tallahassee.

     Tallahassee has a weird obsession. The man loves Twinkees, and since he痴 pretty sure nobody痴 making them anymore on account of the whole 鍍he dead walk the Earth devouring the flesh of the living thing, he痴 hell-bent on finding and eating at least one more of the nasty little cake-travesties before his time runs out. (Don稚 you just love an accidental prophecy? Who would have guessed in 2009 that real-world Twinkee-lovers would temporarily be facing much the same situation in just three years, no apocalypse necessary?) Between his quest for junk food and the fact that Columbus has both spastic colon and the bladder of a nine-year-old girl, they end up stopping at a lot of supermarkets, gas stations, and convenience stores. Naturally that opens them up to zombie attack with a frequency that violates pretty much every one of Columbus痴 31 rules of survival, but it痴 okay, because Tallahassee is the motherfucking John Rambo of zombie-killing. Ironically, the threat they can稚 overcome turns out to be a harmless-looking twenty-ish girl (Emma Stone) and her tweenage sister (Abigail Breslin, from Ender痴 Game and Signs), who bamboozle the guys out of their guns and their vehicle with a con about the kid needing to be euthanized for a zombie bite.

     The lads enjoy a compensating stroke of good luck on a nearby residential street, where the carport of one abandoned house yields a fully gassed-up Hummer H2, stocked with a veritable arsenal of guns and ammunition. (典hank God for rednecks! Tallahassee exclaims, knowing whereof he speaks.) Thus equipped (albeit under protest from Columbus), the pair reverse course, and race off in the direction they last saw the girls who waylaid them heading. Inevitably, that leads only to them being waylaid a second time. Now, however, the girls decide not to let their two-time suckers out of their sight, which seems a reasonable line to adopt toward people who were trying to hunt you down. Even so, the close confines of the Hummer soon produce an uneasy truce. Tallahassee dubs the older girl Wichita and the younger Little Rock, apparently on a different operative theory from the guys handles, since Wichita and Little Rock weren稚 going to either of those places. Rather, they池e bound for Los Angeles, site of the Pacific Funland amusement park. Both girls have fond memories of the park, but more importantly, rumor has it that it痴 completely free of zombies even now. Tallahassee has heard that about enough places that he doesn稚 believe it for a second, but what the hell? They致e got to go somewhere, after all. From then on, Zombieland turns into something resembling an extremely strange romantic road-trip comedy, with the emphasis less on survival than on the process whereby the travelers learn how not to become the kind of self-destructive, backstabbing idiots who populate most post-Romero zombie movies.

     Zombieland is inoffensive and mildly amusing, but ultimately no more than that. Jesse Eisenberg痴 Columbus plays like a less irritating version of the title character in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and has good odd-couple chemistry with Woody Harrelson痴 Tallahassee. Emma Stone doesn稚 have as much to work with here as she does in, say, Easy A, but this film does nothing to endanger her status as my favorite comic actress of her generation. Abigail Breslin gets the best moment in the whole movie, an extemporized bit in which Little Rock attempts to explain Hannah Montana to an incredulous Tallahassee. The top-secret celebrity cameo works well enough, but isn稚 sufficiently grounded in the specific star痴 personality to make as much impact as it was supposed to; anybody at that level of fame could have been substituted without changing much of anything. Come to think of it, the same might be said of Zombieland as a whole. A minimum of tinkering would render this script compatible with any end-of-the-world scenario that included a concrete enemy for the survivors to hide from, flee from, and fight: vampires, aliens, atomic mutants, biker gangs, doomsday preppers, whatever. I prefer my parodies to be more narrowly tailored than that.

 

 

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