Zombieland (2009)

This had potential to be the American equivalent of Shaun of the Dead, but unfortunately it never  achieves the same level of  humor and wit so in the end you are just left with a very subpar comedy with a zombie gimmick that is the only thing that makes it even remotely memorable. Which is a shame, because it does manage to be rather amusing at times and it does also offer a refreshingly different take on the zombie genre. To me, the funniest bit in the movie was when they showed a flashback of how Eisenberg’s character came across his first zombie: the scene goes from Eisenberg thinking he’s experiencing his happiest day on Earth only for it to shift to a living nightmare when his cute next door neighbor suddenly turns into a zombie. It’s a little bit terrifying as well as incredibly amusing when Eisenberg runs around his home in panic as his cute zombie neighbor is chasing him. Bill Murray’s cameo in the movie was also funny, but not really as good as I had led to believe.

Now, where the movie ends up failing is that it tries to be both a comedy and serious movie at the same time, but it does not manage to balance the two properly. When the story shifts to the road movie mode, the movie basically goes off the rails entirely and doesn’t really manage to mend itself. The movie becomes a rather tedious and boring exercise at trying to give depth to the cast,  with very little success or insight aside from Harrelson’s character. And in Harrelson’s case his character has too little screen time and is just a bit too outlandish for it to work, as the tragic backstory has too much tonal whiplash, and you do not get to connect to Harrelson on deep enough level to actually care about his tragedy when it is suddenly revealed to you. I don’t object wanting to insert some seriousness to a comedy because as that can in certain cases help to elevate the comedy, but here it just completely slows the movie down to a snails pace and ultimately doesn’t pay off in any meaningful or entertaining way.

The climax is also a dud and reeks of being contrived way to bring in some climactic tension and obligatory big action scene with a horde of zombie.  And it was a bit too much to swallow that the girls, a pair of hustlers who have been able to survive on their own thanks to their street smartness all this time, suddenly were too stupid to realize that switching on the amusement park electricity at night (turning the place into one gigantic light show to attract zombies from miles away) was perhaps a dumb. Even in a horror movie scenario I can only suspend my disbelief so much.

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