October 2, 2009

Review: I Ain't Afraid of No 'Zombieland'

Ruben Fleischer's directorial debut, Zombieland, is easily my second favourite comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg in an amusement park-based (—land) setting from this year. With great style and well-paced humour, Zombieland serves as a charming, episodic, buddy, road trip comedy set in a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world.

The opening credit sequence that shows the lighter side of human destruction is very clever and original. Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland) as Columbus does well in the typical Jesse Eisenberg/Michael Cera role as our narrator and protagonist who walks what is left of the Earth. Columbus lives by a set of strict rules in order to survive that amusingly are displayed on screen for good comic effect.

Woody Harrelson hams it up, having a ton of fun doing so as the uproarious, ass-kicking Tallahassee who has an inexplicable obsession with finding Twinkies. Emma Stone (Superbad) and a noticeably more mature Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) round out the foursome as a pair of loner, grifter sisters, Wichita and Little Rock.

Zombieland, which was originally envisioned as a television pilot, is relatively plotless and open-ended. Stretching a small budget for a studio film, Fleischer pads sequences that focus on character and then transitions into entertaining zombie kills and sight gags.

The sheer highlight of the film is an extended, seemingly random, self-referential cameo sequence with a surprising and hilarious reveal that makes the whole film worthwhile.

Zombieland is clearly inspired by the comedy/parody Shaun of the Dead, but is much lighter and less sentimental. It does not have the kind of focus, story, or momentum of that film, but that works in its favour. Zombieland offers a lot of fun and entertainment through its inventive imagery and cleverly executed jokes set around a zombie land.

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