2008, dir. Ruben Fleischer
Review by Baldy
“Pretty soon, life’s little Twinkie gauge is gonna go empty.”
Welcome to Zombieland, or How to Survive the Zombie Epidemic As Narrated By a Neurotic, Misanthropic, Least-Likely Survivor Who’s a Bit of a Bitch. Some of the rules:
- The double tap.
- Beware of bathrooms.
- Travel light.
- Don’t be a hero.
- Limber up.
- When in doubt, know your way out.
- Check the back seat.
- Enjoy the little things.
Short version? Great movie. Tired plot. Excellent storytelling. Awesome soundtrack. Cool effects. Twinkie love and Bill Murray. Atlanta natives join the ranks of the undead. Sweet.
“In Mexico, you know what they call Twinkies? Los Submarinos.”
Plot’s nothing special. The world is being overrun by zombies. A small group of very different people is headed to the only known zombie-free place left on the planet. Throw in the young man teamed with the grizzled veteran story and the boy wants unattainable girl story and you pretty much have it. They key, though, is in how the story was told.
“Where are the fucking Twinkies?”
Visually, the movie is kind of fun. It’s different. The opening credits feature some slow motion scenes of excellent and grisly zombie attacks. The rules are on massive banners that are in – and interact with – the movie. The zombie makeup and gore effects are good, though mostly standard zombie movie fare. Some of the zombie “deaths” are rather remarkable, though: point-blank shot to the side of the head with a carbine, people being chewed to death, nun drops a piano on a guy, that kind of thing.
“Where are you, you spongy, yellow, delicious bastards?”
What does the movie really have going for it? It’s FUN. Not only is it fun, but it conveys the feeling that the people involved had fun making it. Jesse Eisenberg being chased around a parking lot by zombies while repeatedly trying to unlock and climb into a car – it looked like he was having a great time. Woody Harrelson, on the other hand, looked like he was in HEAVEN. I don’t know whether or not he enjoyed the role – I know that people who worked on the project thought he was a real douchebag – but he makes it look like he was BORN for this role. He gets to dispatch zombies with a carbine, truck door, baseball bat, hedge clippers and most notable a banjo. He says something along the lines of “My mother always told me I’d be good at something one day.” The same could be said of Harrelson himself, as he made us revel in his unadulterated glee.
“Sno-balls? SNO-BALLS? Where the fuck are the goddamn Twinkies?”
There were two more aspects of the film that gave it more personality than other zombie films: Twinkies and Bill Murray.
Whether you know it or not, Twinkies do have an expiration date. That idea becomes a driving force and touchstone for Harrelson’s character. In this world filled with flesh-eating monsters and nobody he can trust, the notion of finding and eating a Twinkie is his obsession. It goes on throughout the film, starting with the frustration at finding an abandoned Hostess truck that holds nothing but Sno-Balls and culminating in a temper tantrum at finding a destroyed stock of them at a fried Twinkie stand. The obsession gives just a little more character to the film, helping to set it apart from others in the genre.
Then there’s Bill Murray, or Bill Fucking Murray as he’s known in the film. When our ragtag party arrives in Beverly Hills, they decide to hole up at Casa de Murray. There is opulence. There’s an SNL painting of him. There’s a lot of golf stuff. There’s a private screening room that has a cut of Ghostbusters. And there’s a zombified Bill Murray. At a point in the film that looks like it’s slowing down to steamroller speed, the filmmakers realized that their film was barely going to hit 80 minutes. Cue Bill Murray, and he breathes new life into it.
It’s a great movie to watch. It’s fun and well-made and it has zombies and scenery and romance and betrayal. It has human drama and plenty of gore. In a nutshell, since you’re reading a review of the film on THIS site, it’s your kind of movie.
Time to nut up or shut up.
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