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Zombieland (2009)

An American post-apocalyptic zombie comedy movie directed by Ruben Fleischer

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Zombie Party!

  • Oct 31, 2011
Ah, the good old zombie apocalypse. That great fantasy scenario which allows people to envision going on destructive, murderous rampages while still emerging as the good guy.

Zombieland forgoes the regular rote of showing the apocalypse itself or even giving us a backstory to pin to it. All we know is that we are suddenly given this character, Columbus, who is running away from his life as a student at the University of Texas. We first see him in Garland picking up fuel ("You might think the zombies got to the place, but it's actually just Garland") when he is ambushed by a small group of zombies. He proceeds to give us not the backstory of the zombie outbreak itself, but his own background in relation to it: His insanely hot dorm neighbor was looking for a refuge for the night. When she woke up the next day, she was a zombie. And Columbus had to quickly kill her, all while fighting off the surprise of her sudden metamorphosis.

Zombieland is the Scream of zombie horror flicks: It manages to be in and of its genre of movies while being a parody of it at the same time. It isn't quite as self-conscious as Scream, but it's a lot louder and more fun, with more brilliant and funny lines.

Aside from Columbus's small strain of a background story, we get to know very little about the four characters in Zombieland. The four main characters only know each other by the cities they come from: Columbus, Ohio; Tallahassee, Florida; Wichita, Kansas; and Little Rock, Arkansas. Columbus is a bit of a geek who left Texas once the apocalypse happened to try to visit his family back in Columbus. Tallahassee is a good-hearted psycho who will stop at nothing to get his hands on a Twinkie; Wichita and Little Rock are a team of female con artists who hit their marks using the potent combination of Little Rock's age (she's 12) and Wichita's hotness. The one character in Zombieland who gets a real name is Bill Murray, who plays a role as a very successful movie star and comedian named Bill Murray. He apparently starred in some movie called Ghostbusters.

Columbus is the character the movie revolves around the most. Being a parody, Zombieland makes him into an unlikely hero. He's not Ash from the Evil Dead movies, a tough guy who is good at improvisational fighting while spitting one-liners. He's a geek who, when the move begins, has written up an unwavering rule code which he uses to stay alive during the zombie outbreak. Most of the time, he doesn't even break it. During the movie, he only ever breaks a single rule (Don't be a hero), and that's in order to rescue Wichita and Little Rock from one of those free-falling amusement park rides, where the two of them trapped themselves while trying to escape a large horde.

For a movie like Zombieland to work, it has to be oozing attitude! Our attitude in Zombieland is Tallahassee, played the the wonderful Woody Harrelson in all of his psychotic glory! First of all, the guy loves his Twinkies. Throughout the movie, his sole object in life is to get a Twinkie before life's little Twinkie meter runs out. His rationale revolves around the fact that Twinkies all have expiration dates, and that the expiration dates aren't going to stop coming up just because a zombie outbreak prevented them from ever getting to the stores. But what really sets him apart is that he's the only one in the movie who takes real pleasure in killing the zombies. His methods are creative, methodical, and brutal, and it's clear he's never going to be at the forefront of any zombie rights movements. He drives huge Hummers and carries the loudest weapons.

Since this is a post-apocalyptic world and the few remaining humans are sparsely spread out and looking out for just themselves, none of these characters trust each other when they meet. Columbus and Tallahassee have a brief standoff upon meeting, and when they meet Wichita and Little Rock, they are conned out of their supplies. They also get conned by them a second time upon a happenstance encounter by the roadside, and instead of just leaving them off for dead again, Little Rock and Wichita just take Columbus and Tallahassee along for their ride for some reason. Along the way, they turn into a surrogate family for each other.

For a parody, a lot of the movie is played straight. There's certainly humor, and a lot of it comes with tongue placed firmly in cheek. The humor, while it plays on the line of self-consciousness, never actually crosses it. Part of it is the violence, which frequently isn't taken very seriously, at least not by the director. Zombieland plays out like an excuse for the stars - Jessie Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin - to get physical, say cadences of silly lines, and generally have fun.

Even the plot is minimal. We don't know much about the characters. All we know is that the movie begins with Columbus trying to make his way back to his namesake hometown to see if his family - who he admitted has never been close - is okay. He meets Tallahassee, and then they meet Wichita and Little Rock. The plot about Columbus going home is given a throwaway line and immediately abandoned. He has an exchange with Tallahassee about some mythical place out west where there aren't any zombies, and this plot thread is thrown instantly by the wayside when Tallahassee retorts with a remark about how everyone hears about a place like that: "In the east, they believe it's out west, and in the west they say it's in the east. You're like a penguin at the North Pole who hears the South Pole is real nice this time of year." The real triumph in Zombieland is that the heroes survive another day.

Zombieland is a fun movie. If you don't like horror movies, it probably won't change your mind, but if you can take horror infused with a load of comedy and destruction, you'll love it.

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October 31, 2011
Harrelson ruled this movie and Emma Stone....well, was pretty good. I like that neighbor in the beginning....I really enjoyed the breakdown of rules, that was pretty creative. Nice review!
More Zombieland reviews
review by . December 24, 2010
I would hardly consider myself an expert on the zombie genre because I haven't seen many zombie films, but I can safely say that Zombieland is the highest grossing zombie film of all time for a reason. One of the great things about it is that it doesn't take itself all that seriously. It's a comedy first and a horror film second. I've never even been a fan of post-apocalyptic films and I still like this movie, because it doesn't treat itself as a post-apocalyptic film. The only …
review by . October 02, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Zombie Heaven
I can't believe the hate this flick is getting, for me it was zombie comedy heaven all wrapped up in a nice new package. We've seen zombies presented in all sorts of ways before but generally we get them in the same old unimaginative way; people get trapped in a house or other edifice and try to fight them off. Yeah. I saw that back in the 1960s and I've been ready for something else for a long time now so I appreciate any new twist to the formula no matter how slight. The twist here is …
review by . October 03, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
     Zombies have become such a great delicacy in the horror genre; they have become almost as malleable and adaptive as the vampire when it comes to genre mixing. We’ve seen them in horror, action, comedy and even video games. One would argue that the current winner of the zombie comedy crown is either “Shaun of the Dead” or “Fido”. Director Ruben Fleischer isn’t seeking to reinvent the zombie-comedy-splatter fest with “ZOMBIELAND” …
review by . June 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Preposterous Blockbuster Zombie Flick
Don't get me wrong. I don't mind a horror comedy. In fact, some of them are relatively good in that annoyingly yet infectious way which usually spells out "instant cult classic" to most moviegoers. Biozombie perhaps would be the best example of a zomedy film that actually doesn't suck & pre-dates Shaun Of The Dead. I had relatively high hopes for Zombieland initially.      Surprisingly, the opening scenes of Zombieland sold me although I can't say …
Quick Tip by . January 03, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I find zombie movies as funny as I find vampire movies overdone/overhyped. I got to a point where I was laughing out loud but had run out of sound long before the movie was over.
review by . March 17, 2010
I Liked the Edited Version of Zombieland
If I had actually watched the entire movie, my rating would surely be negative. But since I watched the movie with a friend kind enough to cover my eyes every time some gory attack or dismembering or blood spurting occurred, I moderately enjoyed the movie. In fact, as far as I know, one out of every four scenes was the back of someone's hand.      Between the scenes of the undead creating more carnage, there were some genuinely clever and entertaining moments. …
review by . July 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A mixed bag of horror, romance, comedy, action flick, and road movie, Zombie land stars Tallahassee and Columbus as an unlikely odd couple who travel through post apocalyptic America, blasting zombies away at every chance they get. Along the way they stumble across Wichita and Little Rock, two devious young women who are as quick as they are ill prepared to deal with a world full ofthe undead. But of course the four heroes manage to team up and kick-start a road trip to Pacific Playland, mostly …
review by . October 07, 2009
When I first heard of Zombieland and saw the previews my first reaction is... "I'm not sure if I want to see this."  And then a friend of mine saw it and said, "It's like Shaun of the Dead."  This brings me to my first confession.  I am one of about twelve people in the world who actually didn't like Shaun of the Dead.  There was nothing wrong with it, per se, I just didn't like it much.  So I started thinking, "I'm probably going …
Quick Tip by . March 15, 2011
Zombies have been the talk of the town for the last few years. The number of zombie survival guides that have been released continues to grow, but I bet very few people expected the zombie invasion that took place in 2009.      On September 30 I walked down 42nd St to attend an early screening of Zombieland, but to my surprise I got way more than I had bargained for. Standing in line I was quickly surrounded by the livinging dead. Seeing the infected swarm around the 42nd …
review by . February 27, 2011
posted in SF Signal
   I managed to catch Zombieland the other day (last week in fact) and, despite the box office receipts and despite my personal reluctance to post yet another pan 1. Zombieland is one of those "seen the trailer, seen it all" flicks. In other words, once you've laughed and enjoyed the mayhem of the trailer and then said "I'd like to see that", don't bother. 2. The promotional campaign for this film is probably mostly at fault. Trailers and ads give you …
About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston ()
Ranked #19
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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About this movie



Filmed entirely in the state of Georgia.

If there's been a zombie apocalypse and you're road-tripping alone though the wasteland, you could do worse than run into Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a bourbon-swilling bad-boy butt-kicker with a really cool car. This is where the careful hero ofZombieland, a kid nicknamed Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), finds himself early in the film, and you can hardly blame him for hitching a ride with this swaggering Alpha Male. Still, they have their hands full not only with gibbering zombies but also with two sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) who will stop at nothing to reach a Disneyland-like amusement park in L.A. AlthoughZombielandgets off to a rocky start with Columbus's overly-cute narration (he's got a list of rules for surviving in the zombie world), it settles into an amusing comedy, regularly interrupted by bouts of blood-letting. The road-trip stuff is enough fun that when the movie does arrive at its version of Disneyland, the air goes out of it a little; sure, there's a giant zombie blowout, with entrails flying, but it's not quite the same. Director Ruben Fleischer keeps the gags coming, although the movie is often funnier in its odd little asides (both Eisenberg and Harrelson are expert at this) than in its official jokes. Comic high point: an interlude at the home of a very famous movie star, who plays himself--and we'll leave the spoiler unspoiled, in case anybody hasn't heard about...
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Director: Ruben Fleischer
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: October 2, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 80 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures
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