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zombieland

Zombie cinema is often an over idolized genre of film, worshiped by the type of filmgoer who refuses to realize that there can be so much more than watching dead people eat other people.  Much like science fiction, it’s a genre ripe for parable and allegory, but more often than not is just an excuse for gross out nonsense.  So it’s with some surprise that “Zombieland” manages to work as well as it does.  It doesn’t aim to reinvent the cinematic zombie wheel, but it does aim to approach usually grizzly material with a spry wit and sense of humor.  “Shaun of the Dead” may hold the title for best zombie comedy, but “Zombieland” has some worthy gags up its sleeve.

“Zombieland” gets by on the charm and the good vibes of its cast.  Jesse Eisenberg recycles his “Adventureland” persona to a tee.  He’s the intelligent, nebbish, overly sensitive nerd who spends his time playing World of Warcraft and not talking to women.  He works in the part but I just pointed out in the next review below the limited life span of playing this type of character.  Eisenberg has played it twice within six months now.  Making more of a splash is Woody Harrelson.  His turn here shows that his decision to return to acting after a prolonged absence was a good idea.  He’s fantastic at good old boy, shit kickin’, foolishness.  He’s practically the Jack Sparrow of zombie movies.

I’d go into depth of story at this point but there’s no real plot to speak of.  Harrelson and Eisenberg work at killing zombies while the former obsesses over finding the world’s last Twinkie.  The two run into a pair of sisters who repeatedly outwit them and steal their shit.  The two pairs eventually form a tentative partnership as they travel cross country to a California theme park.  On the way they take up resident in celebrity home which leads to a brilliant cameo that you can look elsewhere to be spoiled if you want.  The movie culminates as all zombie movies do, with lots and lots of zombies being splattered.  While executed with enthusiasm and zeal, it requires certain characters to do incredibly stupid things.  There should have been a better way to get to the point it does without making its likable and intelligent characters seem incredibly dumb.

If gross out zombie films don’t appeal to you, “Zombieland” may still rub you the wrong way.  Though a light hearted comedy at heart, it’s still ripe with zombies drooling puss and eating the dead.  The squeamish will still be squeaming in between giggles.  But in the end the giggles are what “Zombieland” is striving to pull out of its audience.  What it lacks in story ambition it makes up for in light hearted spirit and enjoyable characters.

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