Zombieland (2009)

Rating: **
Review Date: 4/6/10
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Bill Murray

A romantic comedy set during a zombie apocalypse, much like Simon Pegg's "Shaun Of The Dead" (2004). Unfortunately, the execution is lacking and it fails to be very interesting or engaging. The film is narrated by "Columbus" (Jesse Eisenberg), an unassuming nerd who has managed to survive the holocaust due to following a strict list of paranoia fueled survival rules, combined with his natural lack of human contact. Columbus makes it his mission to travel back home to see if his parents are still alive, and hooks up with a psychotic zombie killer called "Tallahassee" (Woody Harrelson at his redneck best) along the way. The pair also run into a couple of young female survivors which creates some dramatic and emotional tension. Columbus falls for the manipulative bad girl "Wichita" (Emma Stone), and an awkward romance starts to form, culminating in a delicately touching slow dance at Bill Murray's mansion. After running away from everything for his entire life, Columbus is finally forced to violate Rule #17 and become a hero in order to save Wichita and "Little Rock" (Abigail Breslin) from becoming zombie snacks at the Pacific Playland amusement park.

While the film is enjoyable, it's not particularly memorable and seems like a huge missed opportunity. The running gag of survival rules is really the only thing that sticks out, and I wish we had gotten to see more than just a half dozen of them. Jesse Eisenberg's narration is annoying and reminiscent of "The Wonder Years," and while Woody Harrelson is fun to watch when he's in zombie slayer mode, he is otherwise uninteresting. It's also unfortunate that the zombie scenes and gore effects aren't particularly good or gruesome. As is the current trend, these "zombies" are not your traditional reanimated corpses, but rather living people who are infected with a highly contagious virus that turns them into mindless flesh eating creatures with extremely bad complexions. They also have super strength, speed, and cat-like agility, which makes it difficult to escape from them. Not my preferred zombie representation, but that's just my personal taste. A harmless diversion, if nothing else.