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Movie Review: Zombieland (2009) December 6, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

If I had to sum up the zombie comedy Zombieland in five words, it would be “Pretty good but not great”.

Directed by Ruben Fleischer (no previous work worthy of noting), it has a premise we’ve seen a few times before – the country (America) being overtaken by zombies and an unlikely hero trying to survive against all odds.  That’s about as much as I want to give away.  As with most films, try and avoid the previews if you can.  Plenty of great scenes, lines and jokes were unnecessarily ruined by the previews I had the misfortune of coming across.  If I hadn’t seen them in advance I probably would have liked the film more.

What sets Zombieland apart from other zombie movies of late is that it is more comedy than horror, and what sets it apart from other zombie comedies is that it is actually pretty funny.  It’s definitely more Shaun of the Dead than 28 Days Later, but the laughs aren’t as silly or outrageous – not quite, anyway.  Much of the humour stems from the quirky character traits of, and the witty banter between, the two leads, played by Jesse Eisenberg (from Adventureland, who seems forever destined to battle Michael Cera for all the goofy, awkward boy roles) and Woody Harrelson (last seen by me in 2012, the movie not the year).  Rounding out the main quartet are Emma Stone (Jules from Superbad) and Abigail Breslin (My Sister’s Keeper, Little Miss Sunshine), who both put in solid performances without stealing the show.

Zombieland knows exactly what kind of movie it is trying to be.  Extremely gory (no shortage of over-the-top blood and guts), tongue-in-cheek, and nonchalant about the fact that the whole country (and probably world) has been overrun by zombies who just want to eat human flesh.  And yet, Zombieland does have charm and it does have heart, though it never steps over the line into melodrama as that would mean caring too much – and that would just be too uncool for a movie like this.

That said, Zombieland is far from perfect.  There are a number of slower bits strewn throughout the film, far more than there should be.  And while it is funny, not all the jokes hit the mark, and sometimes it even risks trying too hard to be amusing.  And of course, though it is technically a comedy/horror, the film is not particularly frightening.  The zombies are there more for the laughs than the chills, and you never get the sense that there is any real danger.

Weighing up all the pros and cons, I’d probably say Zombieland is a 3-star movie that is worth watching, but to be honest I wanted it to be much more than just a sweet, mildly enjoyable film.  However, there is a special surprise in Zombieland that is worth a whole half-star by itself – hands down the most unexpected, insane, hilarious cameo I’ve seen in…possibly ever!  Accordingly…

3.5 stars out of 5!


1. Nate - December 7, 2009

Wow we basically pretty much agreed on this one down to the Jesse vs Michael nerdy guy role fight. But I was waiting to see you mentioning how Emma Stone seemed to be foxily flirting with you the whole time she was on screen. I couldn’t have just been me now could it? I could have sworn she winked at me at least twice. I’m getting the dvd for further research…

I have no idea what’s up with your comment area: every time I do a comment, it sort of becomes possessed, it starts flashing uncontrollably, the scroll bar moves up and down on its own, the arrows appear and vanish, it erases everything I type (I have to copy before posting just in case or else I have to retype) and it just plainly hates me. I thought it was a one time issue the first time it happened but this is now *demonic possesion* number 5. I’m scare to get to 6 so this may be my last comment on your blog ever.

pacejmiller - December 7, 2009

Emma Stone was unexpected. I have to give her credit. She does a lot more with what she has than girls with more – I’m not sure that makes sense, but I hope you know what I mean.

What is the deal with my comment area? You sure it’s not your computer that’s possessed? How long has this phenomenon been going on for? Since Paranormal Activity??

Don’t let it scare you off. You are the only person in the world that comments regularly on this blog. Surely that has to mean something?

2. Nate - December 7, 2009

Nope. It isn’t my computer. This *activity* only occurs with your comment area. Everybody else’s? not a single hitch. I thought it was on my end because we (my roommate and I) do in fact have a ghost around the house turning the volume on, opening doors etc. but nah, it’s all you…well, your technologically possessed blog to be exact. It may have been since YOU saw and posted about PA, so be careful lol.

3. Cassandra Jade - December 16, 2009

I loved this movie. I hadn’t seen any of the trailers and just rocked up expected a bad horror/comedy so the standard was well above my expectations. I think what I liked about it was it had the whole B grade horror feel without actually being a b grade movie. Yes, there were bits that were a little slow but for the most part I was very into this movie.
Thanks for sharing your review.

pacejmiller - December 16, 2009

Thanks for commenting! I think this once again demonstrates that expectations can make or break a movie experience. And those previews that keep revealing too much…

4. Admin at 7tavern - December 19, 2009

Hi Pacejmiller,

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