“Nut up or shut up,” such are zombie-killer extraordinaire Talahassee’s words of wisdom regarding living in a world run amok with the undead, and they’re words he lives by. So too, as it happens, does the film in which he features, a full-throttled, double-barrelled zomcom through the United States of Zombieland.
A plague of zombification has reduced the home of freedom to a snivelling wasteland where scavengers roam the highways, hiding and fleeing from blood-spewing monsters with flesh between their teeth. It is here that we meet up with Columbus (Eisenberg) who lives by his very own set of rules designed to aid survival. Rule 1 – cardio, it’s Darwinian out there and ‘fatties’ get caught first; rule 2 – the double tap, don’t be shy with the ammo, make sure the blood-hungerers are properly deceased, with other concerns including checking the back seat, avoiding bathrooms, limbering up and never being a hero. His newfound lifestyle has stood him in good stead, but so has the alternative lifestyle of Tallahassee (Harrelson), a cowboy-hatted ‘zombie-killer of the week’ and together they form the most unlikely of partnerships, and friendships. On this most unusual of cross-country road trips, they are joined en route by con artist sister team Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin), as they all head to a Californian theme park, Pacific Playland.
A comedy that never shies away from a good decapitation or impaling, Wernick and Reese’s script keeps a pedal-to-the-metal gag-rate, firing off more one-liners than can be kept tack of. Fleischer has a style that sits tightly alongside the duo’s approach, mixing the irreverent and the farcical with dialogue that never puts a foot wrong, even sliding in a well-aimed touch of heart and soul and romantic entanglements too. The performances are also spot on, with Eisenberg’s geeky, virginal former college loner being the flipside to Harrelson’s whisky-glugging, Twinkie-loving, machine-gun-wielding killer-king. Throw in one of the best-judged cameos in recent memory, and Zombieland is somewhere you’ll want not just to visit but to take a full on vacation to.
Rule #32 – ‘Enjoy the little things’. Big, dumb, and fun, yet also wise-assed and smart, Zombieland is a ‘little thing’ you’d have to be braindead to miss.