- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2009

“Zombieland” is the latest zombie comedy to hit big screens. Though not as timeless as forebears such as “Shaun of the Dead,” this new entry has enough clever moments to keep audiences looking for funny kills and outrageous action entertained.

“Zombieland” takes place in yet another world overrun by flesh-eating hordes. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has managed to stay alive by following a series of simple rules, like “Don’t be a hero” and “Always check the back seat.” After all, you never know where the zombie menace is going to rear its rotting head, and staying alive means staying ready to fight back.

Columbus — named for the city to which he is traveling — runs into Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) (ditto on the naming convention) while hitchhiking on the highway. Tallahassee is a redneck with a ‘tude and a penchant for SUVs, automatic weapons and Twinkies. Oddly enough, the first two seem to be everywhere; it’s the last that Tallahassee’s having trouble getting his mitts on.

The pair stumble onto a duo of sister survivors, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). Sneaky little minxes that they are, they use their feminine wiles to trick the boys into giving up their ride and their weapons — a couple of times. But can the quartet learn to trust one another in a time of chaos and bloodshed?

The love story that develops between Columbus and Wichita is pretty formulaic and entirely predictable: He has to learn to have a harder edge to gain her attention; she has to learn to let people in in order to be truly happy.

It’s the zombie-killing action that people have come here to revel in, and “Zombieland” delivers. There are kills both creative and mundane; guns and hedge clippers and the occasional piano are all employed to fine effect. One of the running gags involves the two guys deciding which of their tall tales fits as “zombie kill of the week.” It’s funny, if not screamingly so.

Mr. Eisenberg is the poor man’s Michael Cera, endearingly awkward with a similarly stilted line delivery and a self-deprecating sense of his own place in the world. The mannerisms are so comparable, it’s a little bit eerie.

Mr. Harrelson revels in his role as the crazy redneck, something of a throwback to his “Natural Born Killers” days. The other performances are nondescript, with the exception of one brilliant turn by a Hollywood A-lister who shall remain nameless, lest the surprise of his appearance be spoiled.


TITLE: “Zombieland”

RATING: R (horror violence/gore and language)

CREDITS: Directed by Ruben Fleischer

RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes

WEB SITE: www.zombieland.com


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