Thursday, October 15, 2009

Zombieland wasn't that great.

There. I said it.

I love a good zom-com (that's short for Zombie Comedy), so I wasn't going to pass on seeing Zombieland. I should have.

[Disclaimer: possibler spoilage ahead.]

By my count, Zombieland is the first mainstream US zom-com to come out of the uptrend of zombie movies over the past decade. And it is indeed decidedly mainstream, ie., lackluster. Here are my issues:

- Lack of Conflict
"Zombies are a conflict!" you might say. And you'd be wrong. In any good zombie movie - whether horror or comedy or in between - the zombies are merely a catalyst. The real conflict is between the living. Zombieland didn't have any of that.

- Not That Funny
I can't remember a single good line. Looking through the memorable quotes on imdb, I'm unimpressed.

- Tallahassee
Woody Harrelson's character is problematic. And by that I mean that it's a half-assed characterization. They try and give him some back story and emotional weight, but it falls flat. If you want to see a real zombie-killing badass, take a gander at Guitar Wolf:

Now THAT's a badass.

- US-centric
The opening of the movie says that the United States of America has become the United States of Zombieland. During this voice over, the camera zooms out to show the whole globe. Um, what? If the whole earth is affected, why call it the United States of Zombieland? Why not Planet Zombie?

- Heteronormative
The happy ending is the formation of a nuclear family unit. Yawn.

- Genre Identity Crisis
Any good zom-com recognizes and plays with the conventions of the zombie movie genre. Zombieland recognizes them (to some extent) and doesn't do anything with them. Columbus' zombie survival rules are cute, but more of a nod to the parafilmic zombie fandom than to its predecessors. In terms of self-awareness, Zombieland scores some points for having Bill Murray as himself. But even that seemed out of place. The fact that the poster uses the critical acclaim that it is "the funniest movie since The Hangover" is disappointingly appropriate in that the type of humor was nonspecific to its genre.

I am disappointed in Zombieland. It could have been more, but I'm not surprised that it isn't.

For some *good* zom-coms, check out:
- Wild Zero (2000) - Japanese rock n' roll zombie movie
- Shaun of the Dead (2004) - British zom-rom-com (that's zombie romantic comedy)
- Dance of the Dead (2008) - Indie US teenage zombie movie
- Fido (2006) - Zombie movie meets Douglas Sirk

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