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Friday, October 2, 2009

Review: ZOMBIELAND


I used to think that the people behind popular reality television were the most brilliant people in the world. Here was a group of people who bent marketing over, and spanked it. They provided content that fed off of exactly what they knew the viewer wanted.

Before Zombieland was released, I thought no one would top them in that regard.



And then, I went into the theater and saw Zombieland. And for the next hour and a half I sat in pure bliss. The production team behind Zombieland knew exactly what I wanted, and, from the sounds of it, they knew exactly what the rest of the theater wanted too. I don't want to give one bit of the plot away, and I think it's better off like that.

Zombieland is easily the funniest, most entertaining film I've seen in a long time. What's great about the comedy is that it doesn't really go for big jokes, but still achieves big laughs. Almost all of the laughs come from the brilliant pair of actors we have at the frontline of our movie. Who would have thought Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson would make the next great comedy duo?

But it's not even like these two are so great on their own that they really have to play off each other, like so many other movies. No, these two really know how to do it, and as a result (and I'd be willing to bet on this) the movie is probably funnier than it was when it was on paper. Woody Harrelson is phenomenal, and at the end of the day, audiences might have the best memories of his character. The joy he takes playing this role is so palpable I could taste it in the theater. And Jesse Eisenberg might be the most endearing person on the planet. He's so unintentionally charming, it's disgusting. With Adventureland and Zombieland (Lotta 'lands'), he has taken Michael Cera's career and surpassed it with some flair. Not to get down on Cera, I love him, but he needs to step up to the plate and face his new challenger. This town ain't big enough for two awkward teen heroes. Perhaps Aaron Johnson will come in and referee the duel.

Supporting our brilliant leads are Abigail Breslin (All growed up) and Emma Stone. Unfortunately neither of them blew my sprockets, but they both did solid jobs. Luckily for Emma Stone, she's so gorgeous in this movie I almost forgot she wasn't as good as she was in Superbad. But like I said about Little Miss Sunshine, watch out for Abigail Breslin. She's gonna be amazing one day.

The creativity on display in this movie is absurd. I haven't seen this much joy or just pure creative energy like this in a movie in a while. It gave me the feeling that Stranger Than Fiction gave me. Not one word in this movie is out of place. And here's something I've realized. If you can tell who is responsible for what the great aspects of a movie are at the end, the other departments didn't hold up. In this movie I didn't get that feeling. I couldn't say directer Ruben Fleischer did one thing great, or the writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick did that, or cinematographer Michael Bonvillain shot this beautifully, or production designer Maher Ahmad really knew what they were doing, or composer David Sardy brought it to a new level. No, this team of unspeakably creative and brilliant people came together unselfishly to create a piece of art. Everyone shone at their craft, but at the end, it was a magnificent team effort. And isn't that what movies should be? Not just a tour de force of a director's style. What's that Tim Burton?

If I had to dig deep to find one thing about Zombieland that isn't perfect, I would say it's the fact that this movie has more the elements of an action movie and less of a zombie movie. It spends a lot of time making zombies look like idiots, and as a result when they want us to be nervous at the end, I never really felt it.

Of course they did break the golden rule; don't say 'zombie' in a zombie movie. But you know what? It's so much fun I'll let it slide.




5 stars

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