Saturday, October 3, 2009

Zombieland: All that and a bag of Twinkies


Because we are special, and luckily know some awesome people who could hook us up, we had the opportunity to see an advanced (and free) screening of Zombieland here in Atlanta last Monday. Since Zombieland was filmed mostly in Georgia (Atlanta, Newnan, Rutledge, Hapeville, Valdosta) there were quite a few folks that had participated in the making of the movie in attendance as well as many representatives of the fine haunting establishment, Netherworld.

First, let’s cover the basics. Zombieland comes to courtesy of Columbia Pictures and is directed by Ruben Fleischer. The movie stars Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus, Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, Emma Stone as Wichita and Abigail Breslin as Little Rock.

When the movie opens, we meet our main character and reluctant hero, Columbus (as in Ohio). He's in Garland, Texas, eking out a life and trying to avoid the rest of the population, now almost exclusively zombies. Our hero tells us of his list of rules for survival, as we witness many examples of funny and grotesque zombie savagery to demonstrate the need for the rules (#1, Cardio!) Jesse's character wants to get back to his family in Columbus, OH and heads out onto the highway to thread his way through the wreckage of crashed and burned cars, planes, buildings, and cities.

Columbus is sweetly innocent and nerdy cool, and seems afraid of everything, but still has his own way of conquering the festering masses. He admits to not only virginity, but also to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

He soon encounters another survivor, Tallahassee, played by Woody Harrelson. Because Woody's character declares that they should not know each other's real names, to avoid getting too close to each other (death can come at any moment in Zombieland) hence the characters being referred to by their hometowns. Tallahassee is gruff and tough, but full of folksy advice and lessons for life that he shares with the younger Columbus.

Tallahassee is, like Columbus, not just a lonely survivor, but a loner by nature and a badass zombie killer to boot. The two unlikely friends decide to strike out together. Columbus is looking for the ride and the company on his way back to his family. Tallahassee is on a mission to find him a Twinkie. Once these two intrepid studs are on their way together, they encounter a wily pair of girls: the exotic and hard-edged Wichita (Emma Stone) and the overly mature and fearless Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). The girls keep the guys on their toes and lend some balance to the testosterone. The pair are traveling to the West Coast to the theme park Pacific Playland , where they have heard that there are no zombies.

The challenge is not only defending themselves against the zombies they cannot avoid, but trying to second-guess each other and stay one step ahead of the next guy or girl. Trust is hard to come by in Zombieland. After realizing that they are better off together than alone, the four of them decide to travel together at least for a while. What transpires through the rest of the movie is basically the funniest damn road trip from hell (or through hell, depending on how you want to view it).


The makeup effects on the zombies are some of the best I’ve seen, and most likely to cause moments of nausea. The blood alone will make your stomach turn! 10W30 has nothing on the viscosity of this gooey stuff!

The scenes are very washed out of color where you see the most destruction and fallout from the various accidents, fire, and looting. Like old faded out photos. When the action cranks up, the color intensity does, too. (I noticed lots of red and pink - a nod to blood and guts??)


I liked the make-up and effects of the movie, but I wouldn’t say they are the best I’ve seen, but I think that’s just because I’ve seen so dang many zombie movies, that I have a larger pool of which to compare. I never felt sickened by any of the faux blood and guts. In fact, I found this movie to be less about zombies than it was just a great comedy that had zombies as a back drop. I found only a couple of moments where I jumped or got a quick scare, the rest was spent laughing my tail off.

Since my family is from Newnan, I got a huge kick out of the scene where Tallahassee and Columbus are walking around a destroyed town square. That was actually filmed in Newnan Square, so I’m very familiar with the streets they were showing in the movie, and it was quite surreal to see my hometown destroyed by zombies. And as an added bonus, I had participated as an extra in one scene and had the opportunity to see my car (ok, so actually my car was the extra, not me) and was excited to have been part of such a great movie.


We had a hell of a time watching this movie. Between being grossed out, laughing our asses off at the dialogue ('Nut up, or Shut up') and nearly tearing up at some unexpectedly tender moments, there’s something that appeals to every movie fan. Many will make the comparison to Shaun of the Dead and that’s fair. Both are hysterical and tackle the zombie genre in an off-beat way. Admittedly though, we’re torn on this topic. One of us thinks SOTD is the benchmark and that ZL, while good, is at best only at least as funny, while the other feels that ZL is way way better than SOTD. We’ll have to leave that distinction up to you, though we don’t think you’ll be disappointed either way.

This isn't just a zombie movie or a comedy horror - it's a kick-ass adventure movie, a wacky road trip movie, a hero movie, and a sweet love story, all in one.

VERDICT: What are you waiting for? Go out and see it already!

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