Zombies, Woody Harrelson, and Twinkies; buckle up for “Zombieland”

Chandy Clemens

Instead of playing a game of tag football, there’s a new form of recreational “fun” everyone can partake in; it’s just a matter of whether you have the stomach. Also, a key requirement is some sort of weapon, a blunt object or semi-automatic rifle would do the trick. The object of the activity: killing Zombies. Enter “Zombieland,” a vision of the world where you shall no longer covet thy neighbor; your neighbor is now your enemy and intends to eat you.

Yeah, yeah, yeah another¬† movie centered around the undead and truthfully, how many more characterizations can there be about flesh-eating people on the rampage? “Zombieland” twists around the genre and in the vein of 2005’s “Shaun of the Dead,” hits you with a lot of laughs while simultaneously splaying you with buckets of blood and flying limbs.

Without giving away real names, each character refers to one another as the place from where they came from. Firstly, there’s Columbus, from the city in Ohio (Jesse Eisenberg), who’s bland existence as a recluse and estranged child to relatives is turned upside down when an unsuspecting virus turns EVERYONE into zombified versions of themselves. This includes his girl-crush living next-door who turns from pretty to a cannibalistic demon within a matter of minutes.

Columbus’s structured routine pre-zombie life carries on into the new world of human carnivores by compiling a set of rules when confronting zombies. For instance, exercising regularly for “run-away from the zombie” scenarios, avoiding public bathrooms when you would least be expecting a Zombie to eat you, and shooting a Zombie a second time after the initial blow, or “douple-tapping.”

Columbus crosses paths with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a modern-day John Wayne wielding all sorts of weaponry and obsessed with finding a Twinkie (so much so that he’s driving across the nation for one).¬† Tallahassee agrees to let Columbus ride along in his supped up hyphen in there SUV, but unfortunatley, the two fall for the theatrical cons of Wichita (a fiery Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin’s Zombie killing twin to her Little Miss Sunshine character), both sisters and hailing from Kansas. They steal the van and leave Columbus and Tallahassee dudes without a paddle.

The relationship between the two parties play out like a game of gender wars as they intersect paths frequently. However, the self-empowered, and no-need-for-men attitude of the sisters soon changes. They all decide to pack it in together and coast through their new post-apocalyptic lives as a “family” of sorts, hitting up various locations such as Hollywood hills (where the most least suspecting funnyman of our times makes a sidesplitting cameo) and a sprawling amusement park where the final showdown, man vs. zombie, explodes like the 4th of July.

There’s good times to be had with “Zombieland.” Director Ruben Fleisher is unrelenting in the gore/blood department, a forewarning to those easily nauseated, but nonetheless, his sophomore feature proves to be funny as hell and extremely clever. Before “Zombieland,” another “horror” movie called “Jennifer’s Body” was released to a critical and public barbecue for it’s failed attempts at mixing horror and comedy and characters that fell flat.

Now having seen both “Zombieland” and “Jennifer’s Body,” I would call the latter misunderstood, to say the least, and the former a success. “Zombielands'” blending of genre’s work mostly in part to the realism of its characters, easy-to-relate-to characters who speak in actual human tongue (Diablo Cody’s stylized dialogue worked for “Juno,” but felt alien for her characters in “Jennifer’s Body.”)

“Zombieland” holds little to no imperfections to speak ill of. If you’re looking to be jilted by pure, unmitigated thrills, then settle on into your seat for just that. Woody Harrelson is dynamite; akin to Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal as a white man playing a black man in “Tropic Thunder,” Harrelson follows in Downey’s footsteps by going for broke in a crazy and gloriously hilarious fashion.

Nerdy leading man Michael Cera may have some competition with little known Jesse Eisenberg, his Jerrie-curl counterpart. Of course, like Cera in each of his movies, Eisenberg steals the show by perfecting the term “awkward” to a continuously laughable effect; that and because of his killer Zombie assassin tactics, which one would never suspect coming from such an introverted character.

“Zombieland” is a hoot-and-a-holler and satisfying as hell; from the onslaught of laughs to juiced up action, “Zombieland” could fit perfectly in a slot alongside B-movie, exploitation fare. Except where B-movies are usually plain stupid, “Zombieland” stimulates far-fetched action with an overflowing amount of wit to an awesome extent.