“Decent Story & Characters, But It Fails To Deliver The Laughs.”
November 15th, 2009
Ruben Fleischer's zombie flick may have been cheap at a mere $23,600,000 but its $59,936,321 profits are ludicrous in comparison to how poor the movie was. And no, it's not because the reason why the zombies exist isn't heavily focused on, or the too short cameo by BM, or even the pathetic 81 minute runtime, but in fact it was the lack of laughs from these four great characters...or at least they could've been four really great characters had writers Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese done their homework.
We all enjoy road movies, or most of us anyway. And a road movie...with zombies sounded great. Especially since Woody Harrelson's Tallahassee sports much of the humor that you don't laugh out loud about, but laugh in your head about every once in a while. As amiss the world's destruction by zombies, all Tallahassee cares about is satisfying his Twinkie craving before they all go bad as the Hostess factories are most certainly offline and/or occupied by zombies. Learning that alone about his character in the trailers was enough for me to go see this film, but when Tallahassee attempts to exploit his cravings by failing to raid a Hostess truck, there's not much funny about it. This isn't due to seeing such things in the trailers & TV Spots beforehand, but rather that there was nothing else to these attempts and supposed gags, since they're all meant to be taken at face value. And that's the main problem with the movie: Everything's meant to be taken at face value.
For example, the narrator Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) tells a story about a hot blond called Beverly Hills whom he dreams of having sex with, but she turns into a zombie beforehand, and he's too dim witted to figure out what's going on. Because there's no reason for him to know what's going on, and because there was no humor in this clearly fictional tale, then there was no underlying comedy to the whole flashback. It's just all meant to be taken at face value. Jesse was also just okay at delivering lines and seemed really mismatched among the others acting-wise. He didn't seem as traditional as most nerdy characters like him are when caught with a crazy (Tallahassee) and a cynic (Wichita). And that wasn't a good thing. It could've been. But it wasn't. Too atypical with non-believable acting and zero chemistry between them. Oh come on, like you didn't know they were going to semi- end up together?
The vicious duo of Wichita (Emma Stone) & Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) had cunning when conning Tallahassee & Columbus, but it had no humor, as it was seen to me as being more heinous than funny. The fact that Tallahassee won't kill them for their trouble when he has no interest in them seems to contradict the annoyed character he plays. But still Woody and Abigail sport the best acting in the movie, and are oddly enough the biggest main stars in the whole thing.
Luckily Ruben didn't stop short when it came to blood, guts & gore. There's plenty of that here to make even the most tolerable want to cringe. The breaking of all the fragile items in the antique Indian store along the highway was classic, and needed, but not funny in the slightest as it simply expressed my aggravations over paying $7.75 to see a movie everyone said was funny. For it was just enjoyable to watch, but just not in any comedic way.
The other thing which bugged me was the immense lack of logic for the cunning Wichita & Little Rock who seem to think that switching on all the electrical power in a loud amusement park won't attract any zombies. After what they did to Tallahassee's first truck I was hoping they'd get the axe here. But it had to become some pseudo rescue mission type of thing which was really out of place for me, as learning of their stupid plan after being conned twice by them would leave me cheering for their demise, not praying against it.
The true savior however was going to '70s & '80s comedy legend BM's Beverly Hills mansion where BM himself gets the biggest laugh in the movie within a less than five minute timeframe, or so it seemed since I don't know how short it was. But it was a bit too short considering the climax which came shortly afterwards. This may have been forgivable given BM's unforgettable cameo, but it seems as if there were giant leaps in the journey to Los Angeles from somewhere in middle America, since the characters come from Tennessee, Arkansas, Kansas, and Ohio. So they probably started somewhere in the mid-west. But these gigantic leaps of time in their yellow Hummer H2 defy story logic, and toss out what could've been many hilarious scenes that could've evened out the measly runtime. But no, Ruben didn't point out this flaw in the story either, and allowed it to remain as such.
So overall, if you ever get the chance to see this, then do so when under the influence of something, or when you're with someone who's under the influence of something, because "Zombieland" just wasn't cutting it for me. And it was NOT a worthy substitute for "The Wolfman" (2010) & "Shutter Island" (2010) which were originally scheduled for the slots.