First…the team of cats who wrote this, Rhett Reese amp; Paul Wernick have such a wealth of information and ideas about their characters, they pitched this as a hour-long TV show pilot (hence zombie kill of the week). The first episode was supposed to end when Wichita and Little Rock steal Columbus and Tallahassee’s car. Oddly enough, the pilot was picked up and canceled several times before it secured movie status. Apparently the writers have at least two sequels planned (this is directly from their lips, not making this up) as well as a plan to take the story back to TV where it was meant to be originally. In summation: fun times ahead.
Now…this is a great flick for the Halloween season and if you have a sense of humor, you’ll dig this. It’s a fast watch, it doesn’t drag, it’s funny and one of the male leads is named after my hometown Columbus, Ohio. So it gets my vote. I was a little taken aback when I saw Jesse Eisenberg among the cast. My first thought was, “the awkwardly pissed off serious kid from ‘The Squid and the Whale’?” Anyway, I had my reservations about this guy because I’d never seen him in a humor driven role. I am happy to report that I am tickled pink by the casting director’s choice of Eisenberg. He has stepped into the geeky, awkwardly wise-ass and hilarious shoes left behind by Michael Cera. Eisenberg is filling those shoes quite well. Columbus is the very cautious, frightened kitten who is only alive because he follows a list of rules he writes continually. He also serves as the omnipresent narrator of the story which works wonderfully.
Woody Harrelson continues to blow my mind in comedic roles. Here he’s the quintessential redneck from Florida. He loves big fast cars and guns. Every car he steals comes complete with a custom job number “3” on the door in honor of the late Dale Earnhardt — in the soul of every true redneck. At a glance Harrelson’s character could be considered a one-trick pony with no tangible depth but toward the end of the second act we find out his character lost a son to the zombies. It’s in this moment we see the real Tallahassee. When we see him first he won’t tell people his name because he feels there’s no point getting attached; but by the time it’s revealed he lost a son it’s evident these three other survivors are his new family…even if he won’t admit it yet. It was an interesting moment seeing this because it’s squished between carnage and comedy. Very affective in my opinion.
Emma Stone…the red-haired bombshell from Superbad. She was as beautiful as she was bitchy in this film. She and her sister Little Rock rob poor C-bus and Tallahassee twice without batting an eye. She’s a tough as nails girl who will stop at nothing to protect her little sister and I must say, Stone pulls this off very well. Just when I thought I’d seen all the character had to offer, well she went and surprised me by growing up a little and thinking about the people who were along for the ride.
Abigail Breslin…kind of annoying but equally affective. Her character Little Rock has her sister’s get out of the way or get run over attitude and even has her own little streak of bitch.
Ultimately, the story is about this group of survivors attempting to get to a safe-haven on the west coast which is supposedly zombie free. Not the most solid battle-plan I’ve ever heard of but it works. The survivors deviate from their plan every now and then to try and better their situation. At one point this includes crashing at Bill Murray’s house (whom I’m pleased to say is in the film). The directing is good. The camerawork and cinematography are good, any time one has to capture a zombie apocalypse on film I watch closely because it can’t be an easy task. This film pulls it off. The story is well written. What else can you ask for? In closing it’s no Shaun of the Dead but it’s a super fun ride (no pun intended) and you’ll laugh. I give it 4 stars for well-above average.