by Rick Grant
Grade: B+ / Rated R / 80 min
By now, zombies are so cliche, they’ve been transformed into comedic characters. This film, directed by Ruben Fleischer, is cleverly staged and written to be hilarious and campy at the same time. The film is reminiscent of Little Miss Sunshine in that it involves an unlikely group of uninfected travelers who ban together to find a zombie-free-zone.
At first, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) discovers even his girlfriend is infected with the zombie plague and he has to smash her face in with the top of the toilet bowl. Yes, the ravenous ghouls are everywhere.
Armed with a double barrel shotgun, Columbus leaves on a road trip to find somewhere peaceful that doesn’t include these plague infected creatures who have a bad case of the munches. On the cluttered highway, Columbus runs into Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) an ace zombie killer who actually loves blowing away these hideous blood soaked beasts.
Tallahassee is a loaner and is not keen to have a traveling companion. But, the kid grows on him. He’s grieving for his lost son and the one thing he desires is a fresh Twinkie. On their travels, the duo finds an abandoned Hummer with a cache of serious weapons. Tallahassee is in heaven. “Thank God for rednecks,” he proclaims. Now he has the firepower to kill zombies at will.
Everything is going well for the odd couple until they meet two conniving sisters-a 20 year old woman, Wichita (Emma Stone) and her 12 year old sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) who con Tallahassee and Columbus out of their Hummer and weapons.
Through a sequence of cat and mouse chases, finally Tallahassee and Columbus join forces with Wichita and Little Rock to travel to California looking for the mythical zombie-free-zone at an amusement park. Wild Adventures theme park in Valdosta doubled as the ghouless playground.
For young Columbus, the girls and Tallahassee are his ad hoc family. Before the apocalypse, he was a lonely teenager. After the plague hit, he developed rules to live by. Keep fit to outrun zombies; always provide an exist strategy; never go to the bathroom without your weapon; and always double cap (perform the coup de grace to make sure the zombie is dead).
The marvelous comedic energy comes from the deftly written script and the chemistry between Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg. Of course, young Columbus is a virgin who is interested in Wichita. But can he trust her? No, but his raging hormones cause him to forget her recent treacherous betrayals. Oh yeah, the kid may get some before they reach their destination.
A highlight of the film is the sequence at Bill Murray’s mansion. Murray makes an appearance that produces loud guffaws from the viewers. Murray is Tallahassee’s idol. The gaggle of zombie killers stay in the mansion for a day and night, and meet Bill Murray. But something happens to put a damper on this encounter.
The film has plenty of zombie killing scenes, but the heart and soul of the story is the comedic interaction between the four dissimilar characters who eventually become friends. For all they know, they might be the only survivors of this catastrophe.
My guess is, this zombie movie will be a cult classic and a runaway hit. It’s funny and well written with many surprises. The zombie makeup is beyond gruesome. The infected are drooling blood and flesh from their mouths and have gone completely insane. Hey, the only good zombie is a dead zombie-and don’t forget to double cap.