Zombieland: Nut up or Shut up

Ok there’s a movie about zombies that’s touted as a comedy and is said isn’t too disgusting, then word of mouth starts breathing “Shaun of the Dead” in relation and I’m there.

Well I’m not going to compare and contrast all throughout, but I will say that there are similarities. 1. The zombie plague is just a backdrop in both movies- you could have any number of “end of the world” scenarios play out in both movies and they’d work fine, which means both are about the characters. (Which quite frankly is the highest praise I could give Zombieland, that it’s about characters in the same way as Shaun is.) 2. Both make fun of zombie genre norms without parody. 3. Both buck the zombie trend in being more or less hopeful.

But the similarities end there. This is a fully American realized telling of a good zombie comedy. First off, let me join the chorus and say that perhaps the best thing about this movie is that it’s set entirely in a post apocalyptic world. Only in brief flashbacks are you given a glimpse of the transition, but this is a story about survivors, not surviving. Each character is revealed in how they’ve come to function in a hostile world. Columbus is the neurotic whos constant fear and adherence to “rules”, have kept him sane and improbably alive. Then there’s Tallahassee , who’s devil-may-care disregard for his own life and anger issues make him the perfect zombie killing machine. Add to these two, Wichita and Little Rock’s distrust and playing on others weakness in scheming manipulation. These four get thrown together and are confronted with the most human decision of all, to trust/care for someone else or look out for yourself. At differing points throughout each has to make that choice and regain a bit of their humanity.

The plot is simple. Columbus (Jessie Eisenburg) meets up with Tallahassee (Harrelson) who then meet/get conned into heading west with sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin). Wichita’s drive is to get Little Rock to a theme park they both visited when they were younger that she’s convinced Little Rock is zombie free. Wichita’s desire is to give her little sister a bit of her childhood back. (and perhaps regain a bit herself) Columbus and Tallahassee are simply along for the ride at first, but are drawn to interact and care for perhaps the only two other people left on the planet.

The pairing of Jessie Eisenburg and Woody Harrelson is literally nitro and glycerin. Very rarely do you see a chemistry that seems to transcend the screen. Harrelson and Eisenburg seem to actually like one another while tolerating each other’s eccentricities. Even better, each one plays the “straight man” perfectly while the other at times plays the comedic. Emma Stone is scintillating as the bad girl who’s both unattainable but retains just enough girl-next-door charm to be believable. Abigail Breslin actually shoots zombies- nuff said. Then there’s “the cameo”. Possibly one of the best, hilarious, and most unexpected cameo’s in movie history playing both himself and a parody. It’s just too good to give away…

In the midst of the zombie gore, language, and drug use there really is a pertinent story in how we interact with the world. In one sense all of us are “loners” coping with a hostile world that threatens us at every turn. Do we look out for ourselves, and if we do, do we lose our humanity in the process? Are we controlled by fears and “rules”, fatalistic, or manipulative? Or do we allow ourselves to care about others knowing full well that we will probably be hurt in the process and along the journey? Zombieland finally answers this question: “If you’re not with people, you might as well be a zombie.”


One Response to “Zombieland: Nut up or Shut up”

  1. Sean Curran Says:

    I loved the “BM” on the gate. Awesomeness.

    We went out, Aaron, Jon, my dad, and Brian Walden with me, to go see the film last night, and we all had a lot of fun. Granted, I think I would have considered the film an utter masterpiece if I had consumed a lot more alcohol beforehand, but it was definitely a fun little film. A lot like an amusement park ride. But definitely wished you were there with us.

    Hope everything’s going well for you at school.

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