ZOMBIELAND

Zombieland movie image Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone

Overall Impression – Gotta be my favorite zombie movie ever.  Probably one of my favorite MOVIES ever.

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who’s your main character? – Columbus.

What’s he trying to accomplish? – Professional: survive the zombie armageddon.  Personal: win Wichita.  Private: fix his ‘survival rules’ – stop avoiding attachment, learn to enjoy the little things, and (occasionally) be the hero.

Who’s trying to stop him? – The zombies, but also Wichita and her sister.

What happens if he fails? – They’ll all die.

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – Columbus is one of the most ‘orphaned’ characters I’ve seen.  He’s one of the few surviving humans.  He’s separated from his family.  He’s never had a girlfriend.  He avoided people even before they were zombies.   He even says, “We are all orphans in Zombieland”.  Columbus meets Tallahassee, and they team up, refusing to use their real names to avoid attachment.  They meet Wichita and her younger sister, who con the guys, steal Tallahassee’s ride and abandon them.

Wanderer – Columbus and Tallahassee go searching for a new vehicle, discover some weapons, and find Wichita and her sister again… only to be taken hostage once more.  They learn that the girls are headed to a zombie-free amusement park.  Columbus learns that his parents are dead, and feels lost as a result.  However, as the group travels, Columbus and Wichita bond, and he realizes he has something worth living for.

Warrior – Columbus decides to stick with the group and tries in earnest to win Wichita.  They drive into Hollywood and party in Bill Murray’s mansion, and Columbus puts the “moves” on Wichita.  However, in the end the ‘no attachment’ rule wins out and Wichita and her sister ditch the guys once more, heading to the amusement park alone.  Columbus decides to man up and pursue Wichita, and he and Tallahassee race to the amusement park – which has become overrun with zombies.

Martyr – Columbus faces down his greatest fear – a clown zombie – and is willing to die to save Wichita and her sister from the zombie-infested amusement park.

AND, IN THE END…

I have to agree with Roger Ebert’s take on zombies: they’re hilarious, and ZOMBIELAND makes the most of that.  Boasting some extremely memorable characters, this was total anarchic, ridiculous fun from start to finish.  Please run out and see this movie before it leaves theaters.  If nothing else, see it for what’s probably the most hilarious cameo to come along in a while.

Much like in TITANIC or PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, it’s somewhat up for debate as to who the main character is: Columbus or Tallahassee?  There are some tests to help determine this:

1 – At the end of the movie, it’s the hero versus the villain over stakes.  Very close, but I’d go with Columbus. He clashes most directly with the zombies over the stakes characters (Wichita and Little Rock).

2 – The hero changes the most from the start to the finish.  I’m still undecided on this one.  Perhaps Tallahassee, by a hair.

3 – The hero is like the villain, but with a moral centre.  Definitely Tallahassee.  Zombies destroy without reason, love blood and guts, and have one-track minds (brains!).  What’s Tallahassee like?  He destroys without reason, loves blood and guts, and has a one-track mind (twinkies!).  The only difference between the two, apart from a pulse, is that Tallahassee has a moral centre.

4 – The hero drives the action.  Again very close, but I’d say Columbus makes most of the decisions.  (Notably, to save the girls from the amusement park).

5 – The hero is willing to sacrifice the most in Act 3. Tallahassee has something of a death-wish, and killing zombies is what he lives for.  Columbus on the other hand hates danger, and has to face his worst nightmare – the clown zombie.  I’d say Columbus.

In my book, Columbus emerges as the main character, but that doesn’t mean that Tallahassee’s character isn’t developed enough that he couldn’t be.  Clearly this test is somewhat subjective, but it’s always interesting to see who people peg as the main character in movies such as PIRATES, LETHAL WEAPON, RUSH HOUR, TITANIC, etc.  What’s your take?

– Dan Pilditch

2 Responses to “ZOMBIELAND”

  1. Philip Palmer December 4, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    I always feel that the narrator of the film is the protagonist. Except of course in LA CONFIDENTIAL where Danny De Vito narrates and dies half way though the film.

    Well that theory didn’t last long.

    I agree – this is a brilliantly funny film, which makes great mileage out of how ridiculous zombies are. One of the best films of the year, along with District 9.

  2. Rebecca October 13, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    The first time around, I was expecting an action-packed movie, so when it took a different direction I felt like things were just drifting along…. and felt a little lost myself. But once you realize this is not your typical zombie movie, it shines in its own way. The second time round, expectations are set and you can really enjoy the moment-to-moment jokes and one liners. It’s really fun. A close second after Shaun of The Dead.

Leave a Reply