Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The most versatile monsters around

By Edward Copeland
With as much as is being written about vampires in light of the Twilight books and movies and HBO's True Blood and countless other vampire-theme tales (Don't forget Elton John's short-lived Broadway musical Lestat), I know I'm not the only one who wishes someone would drive a stake through the heart of the whole genre (and I loved the TV show Buffy, the Vampire Slayer). That's why it's so amazing that whether it is played for straight horror or for pure laughs, zombie movies almost always turn out well as is the case with the fun as hell Zombieland. Maybe it's because none of these undead spend time mooning over unrequited love: they want to eat humans and humans want to bash their heads in. It's as simple as that. Zombies aren't into boinking and long, poignant kisses.

Zombieland definitely belongs to the "we're here to entertain" school of undead flicks and it easily receives a passing grade thanks to its cast and its efficient pacing by director Ruben Fleischer and wry script by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick.

As with pretty much every zombie flick, you can guess the plot: some sort of virus has turned a location (this time the U.S.) into a wasteland populated by the undead and the few survivors cling together to hang on to their humanity.

Jesse Eisenberg stars as Columbus (the survivors choose to go by their home cities to avoid attachments to survivors they encounter), a neurotic college student who has somehow survived thanks to a handy list of rules he's developed to stay alive against the marauding ghouls. While on the road, he hooks up with the Twinkie-obsessed redneck Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and the two make a fine zombie-killing team, even if Columbus does grind on Tallahassee's nerves at time.

The two do make one mistake when they are hoodwinked by a pair of young female grifters (Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin), but they eventually find them and the four form an uneasy resistance squad.

Since the release of Zombieland last year, the cameo by Bill Murray was one of the movie industry's worst-kept secrets, but thankfully if it was leaked what his cameo entailed, I missed it, and it is such a hilarious joy, I'm not ruining it for anyone else who doesn't know.

You would think by this point zombie comedies would have run dry in terms of gags that elicit laughs and funny, surprise moments, but Zombieland produces more than enough to make watching it worthwhile. Now if we could only get some of these zombies to take out this glut of vampires.

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O.K. I liked it too. The falling piano got a big laugh from me. Now yet the Thai horror comedy Sars War on the Netflix queue.
I love the scene where Tallahasse walks into the store playing banjo, Harrelson delivers that scene brilliantly. But the Bill Murray cameo definitely gets the biggest laughs. Hopefully if the plans for Zombieland 2 go ahead they will keep the same cast and director.
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