Zombieland (2009)

Zombieland marks the second movie I’ve seen where a second viewing drastically changed my opinion on it. Wanted was the first example of this—a movie that I initially disliked a lot, but ended up ultimately enjoying it after watching it another time. I have no theories as to why this happens (well, I do, but I won’t bore you with them), but I do know that I did enjoy Zombieland after giving it two chances.

I only actually decided to watch it again because I hadn’t seen it for over a year, and I only had about 90 minutes of free time. That time ended up going to good use, and also passing by seemingly instantaneously. I didn’t think that I was anywhere close to the finale of the film, but it turned out that I was. My free time was all but gone, yet I was still happy to have used it on watching this film. I was never bored, and ended up ecstatic that I decided to give Zombieland a second chance.

Set in the “United States of Zombieland,” the film opens up with, and continues to have throughout its duration, narration by Jesse Eisenberg. He is playing a nerdy character—what else is new?—who has rules that he created in order to survive the zombie apocalypse. Not having much of a real family or circle of friends helped him out as well. He doesn’t trust anyone, so he claims, and therefore won’t be taken advantage of or be put in situations where he is vulnerable to a zombie attack. He is travelling east to Columbus Ohio, where his family was located before the apocalypse.

They way that most of the characters are named is based on where they are headed or from. Eisenberg’s character is called “Columbus” as a result. After crashing his car while escaping from zombies, he runs into his parallel, a man who only gets referred to as Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). Tallahassee is headed east as well, and agrees to let Columbus tag along until they need to split ways due to travelling to different places. Columbus wants to go to Ohio, Tallahassee wants to find the last remaining Twinkies on Earth. Different motivations, each one drives their character forward.

Along the way, they meet two other survivors, sister, named Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin respectively). There are issues between the two groups throughout the course of the film; some are resolved while others do not. Zombieland takes a turn about mid-way, becoming more of a road movie than anything else. At least, it does until the group reaches Hollywood, where a cameo takes place that, if you haven’t already heard who shows up, will surprise you.

Zombieland is a very funny zombie movie.

This cameo is the one part of my opinion that didn’t change about the film. My thoughts initially regarding it were as follows: “Wow, that was pretty stupid. It wasn’t funny, and it was an unnecessary interlude that broke up the good pacing of the rest of the film.” That is still my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. The cameo itself isn’t funny, the person doing the cameo has no real impact on the story, and it felt like it was thrown in just because they could, which is very rarely a good reason to do something.

Although, I would like to point out that the character of Tallahassee does some things for no reason, and they end up being both funny and beneficial to the characters. His character is the most enjoyable to watch, with Woody Harrelson playing him for laughs. He seems to have an incredibly fun time with the role, and when he’s enjoying himself, so are we. This is when Zombieland works the best, and luckily for it, this happens for a large potion of the film’s (too short) runtime.

The pacing of Zombieland is something that is to be admired, as I was never bored. Even during the cameo scenes, which I felt were the worst part of the film, I was still entertained. Maybe in a different way, as I wasn’t chuckling throughout it, but I still was having fun. That’s what Zombieland is, a fun film. You will likely have fun while watching it, both because its characters enjoy themselves, but also because the main villains are zombies, creatures that don’t pose much of a threat.

I’m not actually sure if this is a problem or the reason that the film ends up working. See, there is only one part when there is actually tension, and that occurs in the last twenty minutes. The rest of the movie consists of humor and zombie destruction. There are dozens of zombies slaughtered throughout the film, with only one or two even coming close to biting our lead characters. I realize that a lot of the film wasn’t played straight, but I struggle to figure out if this was for the best. Maybe if more parts did incorporate horror and anxiety, then we could take the zombies as a greater threat. By were we really supposed to take them seriously? I’m not really sure.

Before today, I never would have given Zombieland a recommendation; I would have said to stay away from it, despite the critical praise it did receive. Now, I have a different take on it. I enjoyed myself while watching it. It’s not a deep film, but it’s entertaining and funny, while having some fun zombie deaths scattered throughout. The cameo that was highly talked about didn’t impress me all that much, so don’t go in expecting it to be hilarious—I didn’t find it funny at all. Still, Zombieland was an enjoyable film that kept me thoroughly involved for 90 minutes, so I am quite thankful for that.

Conclusion: Zombieland is a very funny zombie movie.

Recommendation: If you like zombies or comedies, Zombieland is worth a watch.

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