This has been a great year for surprising films in sci-fi and horror (six months ago, who among us really saw “District 9” and “Paranormal Activity” coming?) and movie critic Michael Ordoña, writing in the Los Angeles Times, says the latest left-field winner is “Zombieland,” which lurches into theaters this weekend. Here’s an excerpt, but check out the full review right here. — Geoff Boucher
Clearly, the horror-comedy “Zombieland” is not your average gore-nucopia. There are plenty of exploding heads, sure, but while there are a number of gross-outs and jolts in it, “Zombieland” is mostly about character-based laughs.
[Jesse] Eisenberg (“The Squid and the Whale“) does his wimpy shtick — imagine a young Woody Allen fumbling for a shotgun and blowing ghoulish heads off. Emma Stone ( “The House Bunny”) is saucy as a hard-bitten survivor, and Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine“) is killer-cute as her rifle-toting little sister. Even the ubiquitous Amber Heard shows up (and doubtless has more fun here than in the creatively zombified “The Informers“), and there’s an excellent surprise appearance that makes up for a long mayhem-less stretch.
But no one looks to be enjoying the ride more than Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, a zombie slayer with a Twinkie fetish. If the undead dreamed, he’d be their worst nightmare. In a role that seems written for him, Harrelson clearly delights in finding creatively brutal methods of dispatching the monsters. And it’s just plain fun to see him do it.
The crack cast gets plenty to chew on in Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s genre-savvy script. In a tasty spin on the annoying romantic-comedy conceit of rules of engagement, we are occasionally reminded of Columbus’ tenets of survival as they come into practical usage — a cinematic “I told you so.” The meta-ness of the movie is embodied by Columbus’ explanation that a crazy plan was Tallahassee’s, not his: “I’m just kind of like a Sancho Panza character…”
First-time feature director Ruben Fleischer brings impeccable timing and bloodthirsty wit to the proceedings….
THERE’S MORE, READ THE REST
— Michael Ordoña
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PHOTOS: Woody Harrelson in “Zombieland,” Credit: Columbia Pictures. Harrelson on the set, photographed by David Strick/Hollywood Backlot.