Tuesday, August 27, 2013

64. Zombieland (2009)

Code-name: survival guide

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Type: comedy, spoof, zombie apocalypse

Columbus- Jesse Eisenberg
Tallahassee- Woody Harrelson
Wichita- Emma Stone
Little Rock- Abigail Breslin
Bill Murray as himself

[Program Notes]

I felt bad that my "Inception" discussion wasn't as good as it could have been, so I decided I'd do two reviews this week... both are of movies that allow me to nerd out like nobody's business.
Both also happen to feature nerdy young actors who get thrown together in the same conversation because they happen to do the same types of movies.

...except Michael Cera wasn't nominated for an Oscar... on that alone, I pretty much spoiled my next review :-P but I don't really care.

How I Arrived

This movie wasn't based on a novel (graphic or otherwise), but written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.
One of the messageboards on IMDB labels is as "America's answer to 'Shaun of the Death'.."
I saw half of that movie and one of these days, just for the heck of it, I'll see the rest. Most likely this upcoming Halloween, seeing as that was the other time I tuned in.

I was attracted to this movie for a number of reasons and ultimately its contents were what brought me back for the future engagements.
Only 2-3 times in total, so bear with me if my memory isn't great.

First of all, it sounded like something I could get into due to the sheer fact I am NOT a fan of the horror genre. I don't like gore or anything likely to keep me up at night.
My biggest weak spot on those grounds are psychological thrillers that involve possession.
That's right: I didn't sleep after seeing "The Exorcist" but it took me 2-3 hours to fall asleep after seeing "Nightmare on Elm Street".

"Zombieland" was a clever premise in my view because they spoofed the genre, but not to the point where it was super goofy, therefore unwatchable.
If I see a legit zombie movie, I have my eyes on the original "Dawn of the Dead" because it takes places in the mall... in the daytime. (In other words, I have no notions about seeing "Night of the Living Dead"...

Second of all, I liked Jesse Eisenberg. I saw him a couple of times previous.
"The Emperor's Club" is a great "inspirational teacher" story, but it came out long before his name stuck with me.
Then there was "Adventureland"... these two movies end with "land" by pure coincidence and happen to star Jesse Eisenberg.
Sure, he's a bit of a jerk in "The Social Network," but he has this awkward sort of charisma that I can't get enough of.
I guess you could say I'd consider him my type, if my taste at that particular time was for nerds.

Thirdly, I watched it (and rewatched it) in parts thanks to Emma Stone. A couple years ago, when she'd just become my new favorite young actress, I was seeing her in nearly everything.... like "Superbad" and "Crazy, Stupid, Love" (although it was a dual effort between her and Steve Carrel to pique my interest).

Why I Stuck Around


This is where I'll start to nerd-out... just a little bit.

and as always- spoilers are afoot so tread lightly

I love it when I start watching a movie and within seconds, I know for a fact I'm going to love it and come back for multiple helpings.
Up front, I thought to myself how much I loved the post-production department in this movie. This goes hand-in-hand with my favorite feature in the movie:

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is the type of guy who I describe as a shut-in suffering from pantophobia... the fear of everything (credit goes to Charlie Brown Christmas Special for teaching me that at such a young age :-P).
Then again, he does live in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by zombies, so who wouldn't be? (Well, I can think of one person, but he comes in a paragraph or two).
He is so uptight and freaked out that he developed his own rulebook.

I haven't read the best selling "Zombie Survival Guide" that predates this movie by quite a few years, but this was coolest thing since the idea for that book's creation.

The exposition transpiring through the first 2 minutes of the movie is nothing but Columbus's rules.
(Not all the rules are listed in the movie, and some are out of order, although rumor has it several promotional videos were released by Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson on YouTube)

1) Cardio
- you gotta be able to outrun zombies in order to survive (yes, these ARE fast zombies)

2) Double-tap
-my personal favorite, which I quote all the time in random movies
-ALWAYS double-tap, when you deal a deadly blow to the head of zombie, hit him twice to make sure he stays that way

3) Beware of bathrooms
-they show how one dude died in there because he didn't check all the stalls and lock the door

4) Seatbelts
-it goes without saying, really

7) Travel light
-live your life out of a suitcase, more or less

17) Don't be a hero
-as much as Columbus is into Wichita, he doesn't want to violate this rule because it might compromise the need to stay alive
-by the end, it is changed to "be a hero"... can't do much else when you forgo your own safety for the sake of young love. Thankfully, nobody dies in this movie but zombies

18) Limber
-the same as cardio, but Columbus uses a break in the action to stretch
- LOVE how the words "Limber Up" are jumping back and forth on screen

31) Check the back seats
- this was added at the end of the exposition
-you never know who might be lurking in a vacant car

32) Enjoy the little things
-Tallahassee brings this up, probably after he reminiscing about his love for twinkies (more on that in a bit)

I don't just love the fact that the rules actually appear on screen, but the fact they come every time :-P
Little nerdtastic touches like that make my movie-watching experiences all the more enjoyable.

Once again, Woody Harrelson steals the show for me.
Definitely one of best unexpected pleasures I'd experienced over the past couple years.
He is SUCH a bad-ass in this, almost to the point where I'm tempted to use his performance to rate all bad-ass-ness in film.
He always carries plenty of ammo and isn't shy about using it. Sure, sometimes he takes it a little too far and you think he's a little demented because he enjoys it so much... but that's part of the deal.
As much as his love of Twinkies.

C'mon, I dare anyone who saw this movie to tell me they weren't thinking about this movie when Hostess went out of business.
Because it was the first time to come to my mind when it happened.
Now people like Tallahassee can rejoice because Twinkies are back in full force... although I'll admit, they do taste a little different. Maybe he'd throw a fit all the same because something tastes a little off nowadays with the Twinkies.

Probably the funniest scene is where the two of them find an overturned Hostess truck full of nothing but Sno-balls.
I remember my dad joining us for the second watch, and he said "ew" during the Sno-Balls scene... apparently they frequented his home during his childhood, no matter how much he disliked them.
Yep, getting the last box of Twinkies was his ultimate goal... kinda like Harold and Kumar with White Castle, except this was more of a side-quest.

The main objective of Zombieland is to stay alive.
Supposedly the disease generated when someone ate a burger made from a mad-cow-disease suffering cow and it escalated from there.

As much as I love Emma Stone, I found her a little abrasive during the first 15-20 minutes of her screen time.
She and her sister are together, but they operate like outlaws.
When they meet, she's saying how her sister has been infected by the disease and asks them to help "put her down." Then she changes her mind, saying she'll take care of it. Columbus hands her the gun... and they turn it on them and take everything they have, including their kick-ass Hummer.

The Hummer came from another great scene where Tallahassee says "Thank God for Rednecks"... the car was abandoned with tons of guns and ammo in the backseat.

The next couple times they meet, the girls outsmart the guys and take everything they have.
By which point, I'm like "for the love of God, just work together already!!"
It was frustrating as hell, man.
Luckily, my wish was granted, but it took longer than it should have.

After the foursome officially join forces (although their trust remains displaced for quite some time), their goal is to see Pacific Playground, a theme park said to be zombie-free.

Hilary ensues along the way as they have to fight their way through zombies to get to the park... of course, it isn't entirely zombie-free, so there's one last huge battle.

Best of all, Tallahassee gets to enjoy his Twinkies :w00t:

Final Mentions

In my first review of this, I actually made a comment that Jesse Eisenberg's character "looked like something written with Michael Cera in mind" and "the similarities were glaringly obvious and I've found no reason to put the two actors together in a thought before"

Interestingly, I made a comment recently that I know there's a distinct difference between the two. They don't always do the same types of movies, although the Michael Cera movie I have coming later this week is pretty darn close to this... if not more awesome.

Of course I can't finish this off without bringing Bill Murray into the mix...
while the foursome is out in Hollywood, they grab a star map and stop by Bill Murray's mansion.
I was just as shocked as Tallahassee when Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) said she didn't know who he was. They ended up going to a screening of Ghostbusters in the movie room, At least they started to.

The coolest thing was Bill Murray had the perfect survival plan... he did his own make-up and acting to blend in with the zombies so he wouldn't get eaten...
but the suckiest thing was he got killed... all because Tallahassee wanted to play a prank on Columbus

DUDE, don't scare a guy who's aimed!!
like, seriously... that was even more cringe-worthy than Emma Stone's earlier screen time... stuff that could be avoided if you don't neglect the obvious

Kinda like that AT&T commercial:

Girl: I'd rather be a slow turtle... I know why... because if you're slow, you don't get into the street as fast and get ran over
AT&T guy: but if you're in the middle of the street and you're slow, what happens? Austin?
Austin: :facepalm:
AT&t guy: exactly

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