When I saw the credits, I knew I’d like the movie. If you superimpose the text on the world, then I’m going to enjoy myself. This has been true since North By Northwest (1959). Though, the vomiting of blood is a new one for me in credits. Hey, he just made fun of Garland, TX–classic.
Zombieland (2009), directed by Ruben Fleischer, is about a couple of folks staying alive in a zombie apocalypse (known by their cities–both going to or coming from, I suppose). Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has a couple of rules that he has set out. He’s a dweeboid who didn’t really live much among the living pre-apocalypse. After he loses his ride, he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) who is pretty zealous in his killing–if killing is the word I want–of zombies. Eventually, they get conned by Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who are sisters. Now, being sisters, and I know this is picking nits a little, wouldn’t they be from the same place and going in the same direction? I know it wouldn’t do too well to have the Wichita sisters and might confuse things unnecessarily, but then, maybe change the naming convention. Anywho, they start hangin’ and they kill some zombies on their way to whatever. Oh, are they going to get together? Yeah.
What of the plot? A bit limp, to be honest. I read, here in fact, that it was intended as a television show and some of the bits were developed with that in mind. It explains things pretty well and it might have been a tolerable-to-decent show. I kinda doubt it, though. Still, it does explain the jumpiness and inorganic whole of the story–ah, we’re on the road, we’re in the mansion, we’re at another store. I’m not saying we needed a firm plot line, but I would like some longer bridge shots to give a sense of distance and time lapse.
If they were to make it the kind of show it could be, it would require some serious production values to keep it anywhere near concept. That’s pretty expensive, I should think, for a TV show that is probably limited to a 16-35 male demographic that is likely to prefer to TiVo it. Speaking of production values, I’m not sure the camera work always fits the scene. They’re always a little too distant. It keeps things impersonal when we’re supposed to like these characters. I’m going to say that’s a directing problem. The ideas are high level–Zombie Kill of the Week–without any real visual theme beyond the graphic.
As we’re talking about Jesse Eisenberg, it probably isn’t a shock that I am just on the this side of loathing him–that means I almost loath him. Is it because he always plays a whiny twizzle or is it because he gets to make out with Emma Stone and I don’t? Like Tootsie-Pop moisture thresholds, the world will never know. For Sorkin dialogue, pretty snug fit, for zombie apocalypse survivor with anti-social tendencies, I’m not sure I buy it. It’s not like I’d prefer Michael Cera, sweet blistering Lucifer, no! I just wish he’d get a haircut, that’s all.
As for Emma Stone, I highly recommend she stick to lead roles. She might benefit from the pressure or something because in this, I feel like she’s dogging it a bit. This role isn’t exactly intense and there isn’t much to do, but there are probably two scenes at least that required a kind of emotional depth beyond pointing and firing a shotgun in terror that needed a bit more. Also, it makes the male lead the character I–I hesitate to say “we”–are looking through on the relationship coming off. She’s supposed to be the cold, hard survivor, so maybe this is special, but I’m not sure it is. I think Superbad (2007) kind of underlines my point.
Woody Harrelson puts in a decent performance considering he gets some of the worst material in the movie. I can hear a gasp from somebody who likes that kind of stupid contrivance, but look through my ears for a bit. Consider the scene being made or written. There’s Woody, standing on top of some fair game stand. “Ready Woody?” Sniff, snort, “Yup.” “Alright, and Action!” Then the camera raises, Woody’s framed up, and he says his ten derogatory words about Eisenberg, then “Cut!” It’s cheap, you know? Like what you do when you’ve got a decent line that just won’t fit into a real moment, so you pop it in on the off-chance you need to break up the action. Cheap.
As a side note. I’m fast forwarding through the credits to see if there’s some yummy surprise at the end and I read. “This is a work of fiction.” No s**t. “The characters, incidents, and locations portrayed and the names herein are fictitious, and any similarity to or identification with the location, name, character or history of any person, product or entity is entirely coincidental and unintentional.” Now, only the first sentence of this is even remotely true and this is why I hate lawyers or dumb people who think they’re lawyers who use boilerplate to cover their ass. Bill Murray is in this movie and he plays himself and lists Garfield (2004) as his main regret. They refer specifically to Anaconda (1997) both in name and year, they quote Babe (1995), and I know there’s more. I’m pretty sure that these were absolutely intentional and refer specifically to real things. That’s what makes them jokes. Idiots.
As another side note, or p.p.s., or whatever, did they really need to make Emma Stone look like that creepy chick from Chloe (2009)? I mean, no offense my love, but Emma isn’t what I’d describe as ordinary looking to begin with, we don’t need to enhance that.
Oh yeah. P.p.p.s. It was a pretty darn funny movie and you have my recommendation to watch it for laughs. You can even buy it if you’re a zombie freak. Beware, though, it does have scenes of clowns.