Zombieland is pitched as another zombie parody. Director Ruben Fleischer says that he took his inspiration from Shaun of the Dead. As you sit down to watch you wonder, given the sheer number of zombie films and zombie parodies being made out there in the last four or so years, what it is that Zombieland could find left in the zombie genre that has not been touched. The sheer profusion of copies is starting to feel like it has milked the zombie film of all possibilities that the genre has. And as Zombieland sets in, it seems like a weak copy of Shaun of the Dead. The gags often fall flat, while Jesse Eisenbergs series of rules for dealing with zombies seem an amusing idea that feels strained in the presentation. On the other hand, once Woody Harrelson enters the scene, followed by the two girls, Zombieland gets a gerat deal more life. In fact, one feels that calling Zombieland a parody is more of a misnomer that has been created by the publicity department as a niche to push the film into than anything else. What it feels like is more of a comedic road movie with zombies! As a comedy on its own, it keeps feeling like it should be funnier than it is.
Zombielands strengths are in its characters and their interplay, more so than its gags or the zombie splatter. Jesse Eisenberg tries hard but is stuck with a character that a wet blanket throughout the entire film. However, Zombieland finds its feet with the entrance of Woody Harrelson. The redneck, zombie ass-kicking Twinkie-moping Tallahassee is a role that suits Harrelson perfectly. One is unable to recall him in any other part in the last while where he seemed to be having so much fun and the film would be a great deal less without his presence to animate it. Enjoyable as well are the tough and beguiling Emma Stone and young Abigail Breslin who gives an unexpectedly intelligent performance as the younger sister. The act the two have going and their gradual thawing to the company of the others proves the backbone of the film. The film gets its greatest mileage out of an extended cameo by Bill Murray (playing himself). The whole sequence and the Ghostbusters (1984) homages perhaps go on longer than needed as though the filmmakers were too much in awe of Murrays presence to cut anything, nevertheless Murray has some characteristically amusing lines when asked on his death bed Do you have any regrets? his reply is No. Garfield (2004) maybe?
Ruben Fleischer does not stint when it comes to the expected gore of the genre. That said, Zombieland is relatively light on zombie attacks (more so than most in the genre), although Ruben Fleischer gets it together for a reasonable siege climax running around the fairground. The result defies expectation to prove a modest effort of far more likeability than one would have given it at the outset.
Subsequently, Zombieland was announced as a tv series, although this failed to go anywhere beyond a tv pilot that aired in 2013 in which Tyler Ross and Kirk Ward replaced Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrleson respectively. Ruben Fleischer has also announced a tentative Zombieland 2.
Director Ruben Fleischer next went onto make the bank robbing comedy 30 Minutes or Less (2011) and the true crime film Gangster Squad (2013).
(Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Woody Harrelson) at this sites Best of 2009 Awards).