Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Zombieland (2009)

"So, do you have any regrets?"

"Garfield, maybe?"

No, in spite of the title, the year of release and Jesse Eisenberg, this film isn't connected to Adventureland. What it is, though, is bloody brilliant, a fantastically metatextual take (you know I love that kind of thing) on the whole zombie genre. Right from the start, with the narrative being based around Columbus' rules of survival in "Zombieland", this is a fun watch.

Yes, a metatextual zombie comedy has been done before in the form of Shaun of the Dead, which I must get round to blogging someday, but this is very different. Shaun of the Dead is a small, claustrophobic film based in London and set, in any case, on a small island. Zombieland is able to use the huge, continental size of the USA to show the full and terrible scale of the zombie apocalypse, and then have some fun. Oh, and 28 Days Later has had an influence: these zombies run.

Eisenberg's Columbus is fantastic both as a character and as narrator- a loner, a nerd, a virgin, possibly on the spectrum, but in circumstances like these he's ultimately able to get the girl, the girl in this case being the delightfully devious con artist Wichita. This could be said to be the best and weirdest romantic comedy I've seen this year.

 The stand-out character, though, is Tallahassee, with Woody Harrelson stealing every scene he's in as the loud, eccentric and very Southern Twinkie obsessive. There's a tragic side even to him, though: we eventually learn that the "puppy" he lost was in fact his son. This is enough to communicate the pathos but, wisely, is not dwelt in. Too great a focus on the human tragedy of the zombie apocalypse would spoil the fun.

The best bit of the film, albeit too brief, is of course the section with Bill Murray playing himself: one gets the distinct idea that Tallahassee, Bill's biggest fanboy, is acting as the authorial voice here. You can see his point: Bill is fantastic. And apparently Eddie Van Halen is a zombie roaming around Hollywood.

Basically, this film rules and absolutely has to be seen. But I knew that as soon as the opening titles started with Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls".

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