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Directed by Ruben Fleischer.
Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.
Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin.
Release Year:  2009

Review Date:  10/3/09


In the right hands, I really do believe that zombie movies can still work, despite a plethora of them over the last ten years.  And, kind of like the glut of new-age burger joints that have popped up all over the DC area recently, you just have to know where to look to find the good action and "Zombieland" IS that good action.

That's because it's just the right mix of laughs with some action sprinkled in for good measure.  "Zombieland" doesn't bother to set up its how-did-everyone-become-a-zombie scenario because, at this point, we as a nation don't need an intro to zombie flicks any more.  Some strange virus made everyone flesh-eaters, blah blah blah.  Instead, we meet our hero, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), at a gas station in Garland, Texas, where we learn some rules about what it takes to survive in the apocalypse, and then go from there to meet three other survivors, all named for their home cities:  Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a gun-toting wiseacre who enjoys getting progressively more creative with his zombie kills; Wichita (Emma Stone), a teen hottie with a penchant for the five-finger discount; and, her sister, Little Rock (Abigail Breslin, all grown up after "Little Miss Sunshine"), who has no idea why Tallahassee loves Willie Nelson.

The foursome are trying to make their way to California to find a non-zombie outpost but "Zombieland" is all about the ride; the script is funny, the shoot looks good for a low-budget production, there's just enough zombie kills for a comedy like this and while the whole movie is good, the film's last 30 minutes really rolls downhill.  Harrelson is such an interesting actor; he was great in his early film career, didn't do much of note in the middle, then has been doing mostly small parts over the last few years (great in "North Country" and "No Country for Old Men"), and with "Zombieland", reminded me of why I thought he would be a star after "Natural Born Killers" 15 years ago.  Breslin, Stone and Eisenberg do the job, although with Eisenberg, I'm hoping that he doesn't become the next Michael Cera in terms of consistent one-note performances as the awkward geeky guy.  (Of course, if they're paying, it doesn't hurt to be typecast...)

"Zombieland" was a great surprise; despite its great trailer, I was worried that it might not deliver on the highest level, and I'm glad to say that I was wrong.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 10/03/09