Woody Harrelson as Leathery Roughneck in Zombieland
The zombie movie—that evergreen vessel for all manner of social and political allegory—gets stripped down to its "Holy shit! Zombies! Run!" chassis in this fitfully amusing romp directed with little ambition and even less distinction by first-timer Ruben Fleischer. Set in a not-too-distant future (Roland Emmerich's apocalyptic 2012, set for release in November, is on the marquee at Grauman's Chinese), in which most of mankind has gone flesh-eating crazy from a Mad Cow–style pandemic, Zombieland follows the requisite hardy band of uninfected survivors as they, like the Griswolds before them, make their way to the promised land of a Southern California amusement park. Woody Harrelson leads the charge as a leathery urban roughneck in the Snake Plissken mold, with Jesse Eisenberg (typecast, yet again, as a virginal neurotic), Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin (the latter two playing a couple of scam-artist sisters) riding shotgun. Ho-hum zombie mayhem lurks around every bend, but the movie's comic tone becomes increasingly strained (as does Eisenberg's logorrheic voiceover), up to and including an indulgent movie-star cameo by a certain deadpan genius usually more discerning in his choice of projects. Who ya gonna call? How about John Carpenter?
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