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A little cheese and a little whine

Film Log: Zombieland

Details here.

Like Shaun of the Dead, this is a “Zom-Rom-Com” but unlike Shaun, which sends up the Zombie movie format, this is an honest-to-goodness American Road Trip movie set in a post-biohazard-apocolypse America, and is mostly pre-occupied with Jesse Eisenberg getting laid. The zombies – who can run, and are scary as individuals, which sort of misses the point – provide some comedy as we watch them being killed in variously gory ways. They also provide some additional tension between the characters which does a little bit to drive the relationship development needed for the road movie. Not much, though; you could rewrite the script with no zombies at all and have just as satisfying an ending. And the ending is satisfying – the hero overcomes his fear and gets the girl, and the little lost boy finds a family. All good traditional Road Movie stuff.

All post-apocalypse movies are interesting in the things they make invisible in the present. In Zombieland, there is no shortage of petrol, water or electricity, and the sewage system seems to work fine too, implying that these (along with fairground rides) are things that just work, and don’t require people to run them. On the other hand, Eisenberg carries a large supply of toilet roll, as if this was something likely to be in short supply in situ. This is where the road-trip really shows through: the characters are really just backpacking through somewhere a little underdeveloped where the things they rely on can still be taken for granted, but three-ply tissue might be more sophisticated than these foreigners are used to. Hareleson’s quest for a twinkie, in this light, is remeniscent of backpackers looking for a McDonald’s in Guangshou.

The acting is consistently good and there are a few wonderful comic moments (notably the falling piano; you’ll see what I mean) and Bill Murray’s appearance as himself is a treat (although it ends rather predictably). The script has some good ideas but sticks a bit too faithfully to the requirements of the format to really shine, and for the same reason, we never really believe that the characters are in any danger.

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Filed under: Film + TV,

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My Bookshelf

The Golden Bough
The Value of Nothing
The Fire
A Wolf at the Table
Devil Bones

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