Saturday, August 20, 2011

Movie Review: Zombieland

Zombieland (2009) directed by Ruben Fleischer

MPAA rating

R-Restricted: Children under 17 require accompanying parent or adult guardian, for horror violence/gore and language

ZPAA rating

17 and up

Gore level

7 out of 10--Even though it was played for laughs, the constant stream of gore was more like a flooding river. Lots of zombie on human and human on zombie violence; one instance of human on human violence. Clearly the intent wasn't to be gross-out funny, like Evil Dead 2, or stomach-churning horror, like John Carpenter's The Thing, but it still will turn a delicate stomach. And SPOILER ALERT! a twinkie gets shot.

Other offensive content

Lots of bad language including f-bombs; some drinking; one instance of drug use; some human on human threats and lots of betrayals; casual attitude towards looting and destruction of property; gratuitous celebrity cameo.

How much zombie mythology/content

They blamed the zombie outbreak on some sort of virus but what caused the zombies isn't as important to the movie as the causes the humans espouse.

How much fun

I found this movie to be enjoyable. I laughed quite a lot, the performances were good, and the conclusion was satisfyingly upbeat.

Synopsis & Review

Zombieland presents the story of Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a twenty-something guy who is surviving the zombie apocalypse by following a strict set of rules that save him from the zombies but also prevent him from connecting with any regular humans. He wants to return to his home town of Columbus, Ohio, to see if his parents are okay. He admits he has a distant or cold relationship with them, but still, they are family and what else does he have to do? Prior to the zombie outbreak, he led a sheltered life playing video games and not dating.

As he travels, he runs into Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a gun-toting zombie-killing tough guy who is spending the apocalypse trying to find the last Hostess Twinkie. He loves Twinkies and what else does he have to do? They form a temporary alliance as they travel together. They meet up with two sisters, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who specialize in con jobs and are spending the zombie apocalypse trying to get to an amusement park in Los Angeles for one last taste of innocence and fun. What else do they have to do? They have an on-again, off-again, alliance with Columbus and Tallahassee which slowly leads all the characters to the fabled amusement park.

If Shaun of the Dead was a romantic zombie comedy (or rom-zom-com as it was pithily put), then Zombieland is a family zombie comedy. Not that it is a family-friendly film, it's far too gory for that. Rather, the driving force in the story is the search for human connections and ultimately family bonds. Columbus has a hard time with other people, a problem the zombie apocalypse exacerbates. His rules keep him safe but don't let him be vulnerable. This is poignantly shown in Rule #3, Always Wear Your Seatbelt. At first this is played for a visual gag where a woman fleeing zombies is thrown impossibly and fatally far from her car because she didn't wear her seatbelt. Later on, the rule comes up a few times to display Columbus's character and his growth in trusting, or at least going along with, others. The ending of the movie turns out to be refreshingly positive and un-cynical, much like the beloved Shaun of the Dead. The importance of sticking together and caring for one another makes Zombieland the definitive fam-zom-com.

The other great thing in Zombieland is the depiction of the rules in the movie. They are shown as 3D titles within the world of the film. They often interact in comic ways with the mayhem on screen (getting knocked around or splattered with blood, etc.). They also create comic punchlines, like when someone hits a presumably finished off zombie one more time to be sure, the rule "Double tap" shows up. The use of the rules emphasizes the lighter tone of the film and gives it a distinct feel.

Columbus adopts a new rule during the course of the film: enjoy the little things. This film is full of wonderful little things and has a lot more heart than many other zombie films. While not as great as Shaun of the Dead, this movie is the second greatest zombie comedy ever. Definitely worth watching!

Sample Text

Rather than steal a scene from the film, here's the trailer:


  1. Very helpful blog! It is easy to use, and answered all my questions! I will be back after I finish my first set of Zombie movies I got from the list!
    Check out our Pseudo-Zombie Films page to find out what's what.