(2009) dir. Ruben Fleischer
viewed: 10/09/09 at AMC Loews Metreon 16, SF, CA
I was up for a double feature of horror films, if not a triple feature (turned out “if not”), so after watching Paranormal Activity (2007), I turned into the next theater to watch Zombieland. The funny thing about Zombieland (and there are a few funny things about it) is that it’s a total pastiche, a collision of genres, the latest post-modern mash-up of characteristics whose highest moments come even with a dearth of originality.
It’s a horror film (without the scares). It’s a comedy (spoof? or just comedy). It’s a teen romance. It’s a road film. It even features Bill Murray playing himself in a post-zombie world.
Actually, Bill Murray is the best part of the movie, as probably isn’t so surprising. But Woody Harrelson is also quite good as the redneck zombie-killer extroirdinaire. It also features Jesse Eisenberg, who I’d last seen in another film set in an amusement park, Adventureland (2009). Zombieland / Adventureland, he’s pretty much the same hoodie-wearing, sweet-natured virgin, who doesn’t know his way around a girl. Just here, he’s also got zombies to worry about. A little tired of him already.
The style of the film features lots of “words on screen”, 3-dimensional encapsulations of Eisenberg’s character’s rules to live by, which also get whacked and dented as if they were part of the scenery. It’s something not unlike a truck commercial or a Visa commercial in some ways. And where the film has moments of style, perhaps best played out in the opening credits, featuring slow-slow-motion 3-dimensional feeling snippets of people running from zombies, it’s also quite banal most of the time.
As much as I wasn’t overly impressed with the film, I would be loathe to say that I didn’t enjoy it at all. It’s relative fun. And maybe hedging one’s bets on genre allows room to fiddle with stuff without overly committing to a set of genre requirements.
And what is kinda sad, the disease that triggers the zombification of the world is said to be some variation on mad cow disease. It’s a very limp premise. With all the things that could lead to the destruction of humanity, and all the ones that have been used as premises for zombie movies over time, this was is given seriously short shrift. I guess they just needed to leave the room for all the fucking product placement: Mountain Dew Red, Twinkies, FedEx (demoed multiple times), and probably others that I was trying to blot out of my mind.
Product placement gives you a strike in my book. Sorry. It’s a further note of soullessness in corporate-produced “entertainment”. We’re not the zombies. Are we?