We know what you’re thinking: another zombie comedy? Seriously? Didn’t Shaun of the Dead have the last word on zombies? Not at all. Don’t think of this as an American rip-off of a good British idea. Think of it as an American response, with a distinctly American, raucous brand of humour to counter the drollery of Shaun. But Zombieland does have one quality lacking in many American movies: Fleischer and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick know when to quit. This horror comedy is into the end credits long before you’re tired of it.
Our unlikely hero (Eisenberg), a neurotic loner, has survived the zombie infestation by developing simple rules, which punctuate the movie. #1: do your cardio. Cut to a fat guy being run down by zombies. And so it goes. Eisenberg’s unnamed character (whom we know only as ‘Columbus’ because that’s where he’s originally headed) ends up on the road with ‘Tallahassee’ (Harrelson). Eisenberg and Harrelson have wonderful energy as a comic duo. Harrelson takes his patented crazy Southerner thing into a whole new territory of weird, and Eisenberg fumbles around like the early Woody Allen – if Allen had been armed and ready to kick zombie ass. Eventually, they take up with hottie Stone and her little sister Breslin, a pair of grifters who have survived by their wits. This merry band heads west toward a rumoured zombie-free zone in California.
Along the way, there are zombie attacks, Twinkie jokes (Tallahassee is obsessed with them), a little flirting between Eisenberg and Stone, and a jaw-droppingly funny celebrity cameo. (We daren’t say more). Reese and Wernick’s sense of humour feels random, but this movie is as compact and functional as a Swiss watch. One that runs on brains.
By Hank Sartin