Zombies have taken over America and the few remaining humans are fending for their lives. Names are irrelevant, so they use their hometowns: Columbus (Eisenberg) is a resourceful nerd who teams up with bonkers fighter Tallahassee (Harrelson) to try to find someone else who's alive. They run into two con-artist sisters, Wichita and Little Rock (Stone and Breslin), and set off on a perilous cross-country journey to find the last enclave of humanity. Not only are they attacked at every turn by the snarling, toothy undead, but they don't really trust each other.
The film's snappy style grabs us from the outset, with witty titles and a barrage of cool music. It's also so gleefully grisly that you can't help but laugh, while Columbus' narration helpfully advises us how to survive in a nation overrun by zombies. Of course, as it progresses, the film develops the trappings of a plot, including a tentative romance that's only remotely believable because 99 percent of the population is undead. There are also emotive, twisty back-stories and a hilarious sequence featuring Murray as himself.
Fortunately, the characters emerge with strong personalities, so we gladly go along with them for the ride. Eisenberg and Harrelson make a terrific double act as they bicker their way to a surprisingly strong friendship. And Stone and Breslin shake things up from the start, both giving far better performances than this type of film usually allows for women. Constant surprises for all four of these characters keep them on their toes, as do the running gags and nutty action scenes.
Yes, the film is thoroughly enjoyable from the zippy start to the crazed finale. The gags (and subtle movie references) are just sophisticated enough to engage our brain even though, unlike the best sci-fi movies, the film has no point at all. Just a bit of social commentary would have helped make this a classic. Instead, what we have here is pure, gratuitous fun.
Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Friday 2nd October 2009
Box Office USA: $75.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $102.4M
Distributed by: Sony/Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 209 Rotten: 24
IMDB: 7.7 / 10
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Producer: Gavin Polone
Screenwriter: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Starring: Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus, Emma Stone as Wichita, Abigail Breslin as Little Rock, Bill Murray as Bill Murray, Amber Heard as 406, Derek Graf as Clown Zombie, Justin Price as Sprint Zombie, Mike White as Gas Station Attendant (uncredited)
Also starring: Gavin Polone
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