“Rule #1 – prepare to laugh a lot”

Cameos, comedy and carnage. That is the essence of the new film Zombieland from first time director Ruben Fleischer in which the living dead outnumber the living living. Zombie films are always a cult hit. People dress up to go see them and cheer the flesh eaters on like a sports franchise. But there is an art and balance to making the genre not only palatable for the die hards but also enjoyable movie going for the mainstream. Fleischer and his team defiantly have the right recipe in this one.

Zombieland follows a group of the living as they trek across the US in search of a Zombie free area. Not an easy task since most of the population has been over ran. In fact they seem to be the only non infected people remaining. Led by Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) who is a shoot first and forget the questions kind of guy the entourage includes a geeky, rule making survivor (Jesse Eisenberg) and a pair of conniving females (Emma Stone/Abigail Breslin). They are all heading to California in search of a rumored zombie free compound.

This film was non stop fun from beginning to end. I give full credit to the writing team of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick who took a much used backdrop like zombies and created this inventive, unique and hilarious ride. And I think the ultimate key to their success is simplicity. There are just four characters in this film yet they each have a depth of humor and styling that carry the story. The film plays like a zombie survival guide with tips and lessons on how to outsmart and stay one step ahead of zombies should they ever attack. The rules are simple yet creative and funny enough that I am already seeing them pop up on social status updates and in regular conversation. This film definitely has the makings of a cultish phenomenon.

The cast too, for the most part, deliver the goods. Harrelson is lovable as this gun toting good old boy who has found his calling in life; namely zombie killing. He seems to be having a blast with his character which is contagious to the audience. You find yourself having as much fun as he is. Breslin shakes off her Kit Kittredge image in this one and you see her start to come into her own. The only (one and this is just a side note) that bothered me was the performance by Adventureland star Jesse Eisenberg. I felt like I was watching Michael Cera. Jesse’s voice, delivery, mannerisms and acting were straight from the Cera catalogue; which by the way is not a thick manual. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Cera but not when someone else is being him. This fact in no way took away from the film I just found it personally distracting.

Zombieland is rated R for horror violence/gore and language. The violence is certainly in that campy, comic book, zombie manner. Lots of blood and guts but all in the styling’s that you would see in a neighborhood haunted house. The language is not rampant either and other than a few splatterings here and there it is tame by today’s standards. I have talked to a few parents who took their 12 and 13 year olds and had a blast watching this film. There isn’t one scene that contains an openly awkward moment. It all goes back to knowing your child and their maturity level. I give Zombieland 5 out of 5 snowballs in hell. Laugh out loud humor, fun characters and lots of action make this a must see. So says Matt Mungle.

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com) (10/05/09)

(5 out of 5)

Review copyright 2009 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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