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Oct 14, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Zombieland

Excessive narration. Working with children. Extensive use of on-screen graphics. Various cliches worked into the script. A cameo in which the star is playing him/herself.

Zombieland does not care about your stupid rules, Hollywood. It will not bow to the supposed guidelines about what not to do when filming a major motion picture. Nay, it will come to the table with its own set of rules, and it will rule anyway.

It's hard to say whether or not Zombieland succeeds in spite of the supposed gaffes listed up at the top of this review or because of them. More than likely, it's a mixture of the two; the film gets a ton of mileage and humor out of Jesse Eisenberg's narration and list of his character's rules for survival in a world where uninfected humans are a scarce commodity. On the other hand, some typical dumb dumb dumb standard horror film decisions are made by characters in the third act; the only redeeming thing to take out of them is that were it not for those decisions, there wouldn't really be a third act. Without characters in peril, there wouldn't be much drama to be had. Frankly, though, none of those things matter; Zombieland works mainly because a) it's funny as hell and b) though the entire starring cast (of four) is likable, Woody Harrelson brings so much to the table.

Anyone with a pulse knows that Harrelson came to fame playing dim bulb bartender Woody Boyd on NBC's Cheers for the first nine years of his career. Little did anyone in 1985 know, however, what he was capable of. Sure, he's done his fair share of comedies over the years (highlights include Kingpin and White Men Can't Jump), but it's fair to say that Harrelson has been one of the most diverse and eclectic actors of the past two decades. From dramas (Indecent Proposal, North Country, No Country for Old Men) to biopics (The People vs. Larry Flynt) to gonzo horror (Natural Born Killers) to trippy animated indies (A Scanner Darkly), Woody has parlayed his success into a George Clooney-like free pass to make whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Despite a long absence from big screens between 1999's Play it to the Bone and 2003's Anger Management, he's had a resurgence over the last several years; Zombieland marks his 7th role in a feature to hit theaters since the start of 2008, with another four soon to be released (Defendor, The Messenger, 2012, and Bunraku).

Zombieland seems to have caught him at the perfect time. Full of comedic and dramatic chops, but at 48 now with a little of that veteran seasoning, leaving him capable of playing his role of Tallahassee with a mixture of hilarity, vulnerability, dim bulb charm, and balls-out machismo that balances him perfectly off of co-stars Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone. In fact, that's pretty much exactly how I'd describe Zombieland: hilarious, vulnerable, macho, and charming.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"It's in the hole!"

Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

7 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Zombieland"

Myherobobhope said...

This was a great movie... I'm still really shocked.

There were some slow parts and you are correct that the third act didn't really make sense (except the older girl was pretending it was zombie free for her little sister).

I think the best part of the final act was I had no idea how it was going to end.

Nick said...

Sweet! I'm glad you really liked it. This is joining, ironically, Eisenberg's other -land film (Adventureland) as one of my favorites of the year.

Did you go in knowing who the cameo was or was it a total surprise?

I loved the third act and don't care at all that it followed horror movie tropes. It was action-packed and really utilized the entire park for the climax.

I also agree Harrelson shined.

Nic Cage said...

Hell yeah!

F*** that clown!

Fletch said...

Hope - good point about the final act. There were some things I expected to happen that didn't, so that was nice.

Nick - yes, I am a big -Land fan, too. Need to start thinking about my top 10, but I think they would both make it.

I did not know who the cameo was, only that there was one. Glad I didn't know; it was a nice surprise.

Ténèbres à la lumière... said...

Hi! Fletch,
I ‘am so "happy" to read your positive critique for the film... Zombie land: hilarious, vulnerable, macho, and charming.

Wow, I must watch this film...I must watch this...
...By the way, your second LAMBcast #2 sounded great too!
Great job by… you, Mike Mendez, Tom Clift, Nick Jobe, and Paul Rodgers. I thought that you were all funny and your conversation was interesting too.
Why did I stop by...The "circle" did it, but of course!

DeeDee ;-D

Novroz said...

Great review Fletch.
I couldn't help not to compare this with Shaun of The dead,the story is different but the essence is alike

Fletch said...

Thanks, Novroz! Yeah, this and SotD are inseperable, not that that's a bad thing (though the SotD producers might think differently). And they're both good - bonus!