Rule #32: Enjoy the little things in life.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Notable Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
By the time Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) divulges Rule #32 to Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), every viewer watching Zombieland already knows the rule’s importance. As Tallahassee strings off a list of things he enjoys—up to and including Twinkies (a rare commodity in Zombieland)—Columbus discovers that it is important to enjoy the little things in life.
The same can be said for the film itself as there is a litany of little things to enjoy. The biggest being a cameo that bares mention, but readers should avoid learning who it is at all costs as it is quite possibly the most inspired stunt casting ever. Much has been made of the cameo already, and it does upgrade Zombieland from being a pretty great horror comedy to an instant cult classic, but the filmmakers deserve credit for putting together a road trip movie that would have been wildly funny even without said guest’s appearance.
To be fair the movie already boasted an incredible cast with Harrelson and Eisenberg settling comfortably into their well-established personas and making for a terrific odd couple. The two are paired up when they cross paths heading east to their respective hometowns in search of any survivors they might know. Along the way they run into the vampy Wichita (Emma Stone) and her kid sister, Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who was bitten by a zombie. But just as the movie seems like it is about to skew into the horror side of horror comedy, the ladies steal the guys’ guns and head for Pacific Playland, a California theme park that is supposedly zombie-free.
As the two twosomes inevitably become a foursome the bond that forms between them seems as organic as a forced situation possibly could. Zombieland expertly captures the emotion of the situation from the lack-of-options puppy love between Columbus and Wichita to the surrogate father-daughter relationship between Tallahassee and Little Rock. It is easy to image that that is how survivors might get along and easier still to halfway wish to be a part of their merry little quartet.
There is a certain element of wish fulfillment present in all zombie movies and Zombieland is no different. There lurks something oddly appealing in having the world to oneself as long as one can survive the cannibalistic undead that now roam the land. Since the movie remains firmly entrenched in the comedy side of things the audience gets to see the characters live out some universal fantasies with little consequence leading up to the big finale in everybody’s dream space: an empty amusement park.
As the credits roll the apocalypse looks like a blast thanks in large part to how obvious it is that everyone involved with the film was having the time of their life. The whole movie is infectious (in a good way) and though audiences might not know it, it is exactly what they needed. All the little things that are so enjoyable throughout the movie, things that are better left for audiences to discover for themselves, come together to make one big awesome thing that is Zombieland.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):
Tags: Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Ruben Fleischer, Woody Harrelson, Zombieland