Zombieland is NOT A HORROR MOVIE. I say that with no intent of encouraging people not to see this film. In fact, I encourage you to see this film. And remember, I don't get a cent for telling you this. But Zombieland is without doubt, hilarious. It's a damned good movie.
Zombieland has already started getting compared to Shaun Of The Dead and tonally it is very much the same. But it's still a very different movie than Shaun Of The Dead. First of all, Shaun of the Dead didn't have Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, and that's a lot. I think most people forget that Harrelson came into the public consciousness by portraying Woody on Cheers. In case you're either too young or you were living at the bottom of a lake or something, and never saw it, he was hilarious. It seems that either because of his choices in roles or the occasional pieces written on him in gossip rags, people don't realize that the guy is extremely funny. Tallahassee is really the kind of role Harrelson is not only best in, but probably meant to be playing. It's a great, ass kicking, over the top, insane character with a huge heart. Tallahassee is the reverse of Shaun in Shaun Of The Dead.
Then you've got Jesse Eisenburg playing Columbus. Eisenburg got his big break in Roger Dodger, opposite Campbell Scott. Here, he's working opposite Harrelson, and it's really one of the best on screen duo's in a long time, right up there with Pegg and Frost, of Shaun of the Dead. Eisenburg succeeds in making a character which could have been annoying into a really sympathetic character you root for and never fails to deliver on the laughs. He's an extremely talented young actor, and if his success continues, there are going to be some great roles and great chances to prove the strength of his talent. The rules of survival Columbus comes up with, and are the center of the narration in the beginning of the film, are hilarious. In showing his first romantic encounter the film is great in the balance it strikes between the truly hilarious and disgustingly unsettling. I don't think any of us are looking for our relationships to go where that one does.
Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin show up and really turn things on their heads. As two girls trying to survive in Zombieland, at all costs, they give our two protagonists quite a dilemma to deal with. They both give good performances and are the perfect foils to Harrelson's balls to the wall machismo and Eisenburg's scared of his own shadow nerd.
Let's also not pass up the fact that there are some really great effects in this film. The film makers came up with some new and inventive ways to dispatch zombies. It's no Dead Alive or Evil Dead, but there's no shortage of gore of in Zombieland either. Instead of being designed to turn your stomach, it's all played for laughs, and it's done extremely well.
Zombieland is more expansive than most of the other zombie films we've ever seen. It does a great job of really selling you the idea that it is an entire country now over run with zombies. Unlike most zombie films, the characters in this film are on the go, they're not holed up somewhere, fighting off the zombie hordes from within some position they've tried to fortify. As a fan of horror movies and zombie films, this was a refreshing change. Personally, I'm waiting for the zombie opus that shows the world disintegrating as the zombies take over, not just jumping immediately to the world which has already been taken over by zombies, but I guess I'll have to keep waiting or write it myself. The film makers did do a great job of designing and the world as it would be should it have been taken over by zombies. I probably appreciated this more than most people would, but I had to give them credit for it.
The short story on Zombieland is that it's extremely entertaining. Zombie films as a genre have had a long tradition of being extremely dark and deeply bleak. If you go back to Night Of The Living Dead, you're dealing with an extremely unsettling, nihilistic take on the state of human affairs, and with a few exceptions, that's been the standard. Zombieland will easily take it's place alongside the few zom-com's (as they're being called now) people really have a soft spot in their hearts for. It's a good film and deserves to be enjoyed and passed along from friend to friend just as it's predecessors, Shaun Of The Dead and Return Of The Living Dead have been.
You won't regret having spent the money on a ticket to see Zombieland, and considering the majority of films being released these days, that's saying a whole hell of a lot.