Arriving on the coattails of Twilight, True Blood and myriad other recent living dead offerings (not to mention decades of George A. Romero’s genre-defining entries), Zombieland is as much buddy-centered road movie as it is gore-laden splatter fest.
This juicy piece of pop culture pleasure centers on the unlikely duo of Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson as humans with differing philosophies about how to eradicate zombies from a desolate, now nearly human-free United States of America. Eisenberg’s Columbus (each character is named for their hometown) is a nebbish college guy who’s concocted an elaborate set of rules when dealing with zombies (rule No. 17: Never be a hero).
Harrelson’s Tallahassee, on the other hand, revels in the destruction of walking corpses. Think a well-armed, revenge-obsessed Kid Rock — a raffish yet likeable hillbilly with a nostalgic view of Twinkies and his recently deceased puppy dog.
First-time writer/director Ruben Fleischer tries to inject a bit of relevant back story for his leads, but the plot can essentially be described in two words: stay alive. Along the way Columbus and Tallahassee run into a pair of sassy sisters (played by a gothed-out Emma Stone and a rapidly maturing Abigail Breslin), a well-known Hollywood star in amusing meta mode and, of course, piles of stupid (though relatively fleet-footed) zombies.
And while Fleischer has trouble engineering a unique finale to the duo’s entertaining hijinks, Zombieland is a nice entry into a now overstuffed genre: crafty, well cast, funny and even oddly touching at times. Grade: B
Opens Oct. 2. Check out theaters and show times, see more photos from the film and get theater details here.