Friday, October 16, 2009

ZOMBIELAND REDUX: THE SLOTH RESPONDS TO THE HAMSTER

On occasion, the authors of this blog will have divergent opinions on a cinematic masterpiece. Such is the case with ZOMBIELAND. Have no fear, faithful reader; this doesn't mean that Siskel is losing his grip on Ebert, or that Bert is ditching Ernie for a condo, or that the Lone Ranger is getting hung out to dry by Tonto. It only means that art has done its job and produced a plurality of readings.

So, tip your glasses to art, and enjoy the read.
***
Kevin,

Went to go see ZOMBIELAND for the second time last night, just to give it a fair viewing. I'm still very much a novice when it comes to the scary movies, and so, a moment of self-psychoanalysis. When I watch a scary flick for the first time, even if it is SCREAM, I have to remind myself going in that it's only a movie, that everything is being done with a cameraman, sound tech, 'best boy grip' (whatever that is), and balding director fully sequestered from view, even while Drew Barrymore gets eviscerated. My mental projections are pretty busy.

So, I always approach scary movies with a little more self-imposed distance than I would when watching, say, GHOSTBUSTERS or WHAT ABOUT BOB?. That being said, I don't really get comfortable the first time around usually, as much as I might like immediately something like LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.

All that self-disclosure aside, I stand by most of my initial assessment of ZOMBIELAND. It's way fun; Woody Harrelson is over the top and awesome; but let's take this point at a time.

1) Woody Harrelson is awesome. I liked him in WHITE MAN CAN'T JUMP, but it's been a long time since then since he's been a goofball I cared to see on screen. I loved how they even incorporated his pot-smoking into the movie.

2) STILL thought some of the casting was bland, but we'll talk in a later point.

3) I still don't really care for Emma Stone. Don't get me wrong; the eyeliner gets me almost every time. Maybe it's the glam rocker in me. But I think you're right about her being the next Demi Moore, but I don't take that as a compliment, meaning, she'll get by on her looks for a few years and then start churning out forgettable clunkers like CHARLIE'S ANGELS 2. Emma, if you're reading this, turn back now and start doing character films.

4) You're right: Jesse Eisenberg is better than Michael Cera. I love Michael Cera in ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, and you will find me in line at midnight when that film comes out, but Michael Cera's "awkward teen antics" are wearing thin for me. Jesse Eisenberg has better comic timing, with a little bit more muted neuroses. I'll look forward to seeing what happens with him.

5) And YES YES YES: I do love Abigail Breslin. I hope she's able to make the turn to grown-up films and not do a Drew Barrymore or (fill in the blank with child star gone nowhere).

6) SEAN OF THE DEAD is the best zombie film ever made for two reasons. First, it does the zombie themes and the comedy, and secondly, it does it while not abandoning a central theme which ZOMBIELAND entirely overlooks--and this is where I totally disagree with you about ZOMBIELAND over SEAN. In SEAN OF THE DEAD, and 28 DAYS LATER, and any number of other zombie films, one of the key elements is this tripping the line between human and not-human. There's a moment in the aforementioned films when the hero has to put someone they love on the other side: Sean's mom or roommate, whoever. It's that moral ambiguity that makes zombie films tragic, even when they're funny. ZOMBIELAND misses that part entirely, because from the start, the people are loners--they have no connections, and so, they have no moral compunction about wasting zombies.

That being said, the killer action scenes almost made up for the lack of moral deliberation that makes zombie films so interesting to watch. The scene with Woody Harrelson in the cage was awesome. And the guest cameo makes me giggle just thinking about it. I too regret GARFIELD.

7) Loved the IBS. I like it when the heroes have some chronic problem that threatens to overpower them that's something as innocuous as a dump.

8) HIGH FIVE to Metallica. The soundtrack to this whole movie really was awesome.

9) Liked the realism of the zombies. They were in the early stages of decay, making them all the more human. WHICH, brings us back to #6, and why I think ZOMBIELAND could have been better than SEAN, except that it missed a prime opportunity to capitalize on the human/zombie distinction. The makeup job set it up perfectly; even the guest cameo sets it up when they say that they can mimic the zombies with a makeup job! Wasted opportunity.

Liked it a lot more the second time through. But I still, with the albatross of Emma Stone, human/zombie distinction, and the fact that it clocked in at under 1.30, am compelled to give it 4 Louisville Sluggers out of 5.

4 comments:

Scott Rushing said...

Myles: from the moment I stepped out of the theater I have been itching to get back in and see this again. Good review, and looking forward to owning this on dvd.

the hamster said...

i'm with scott: this is one for the collection.

myles, you are just about sending me back to the theater on this one. let's go point by point (again):

1) i now love the woody, if for no other reason than this one film

2) agree to disagree.

3) i appreciate your confession about the eyeliner. you speak for the both of us. and, you're right, maybe naming her the new demi moore ain't as glam as it sounds. i'd rather not be the next woody.

4) george michael is all the michael cera may be good for.

5) word.

6) good notes here about the moral ambiguity. and you're right: ZOMBIELAND glossed over that bit. and that bit is the heart of the zombie film genre. sure. yes. you're right. but i still liked ZL more than SOTD.

7) i've gone three times already today.

8) devil horn rock fist!

9) nice note here about the make-up, especially the cameo's use of make-up. liked that.

wonderful review, sir. let's disagree more often (even though there's really no disagreement here.)

by the way, why has john barber's wife's husband not said anything about this film? where is that dude?

myleswerntz said...

1) you said woody.

2) agreed. but I'm right.

3) I think it's the combination of the dark hair and the eyeliner.

4) yeah, I think he topped out with AD.

5) hope she has a good manager.

6) I Purell my hands of this point. Zombies without the humanness question is like vampires without coffins.

7) pooping right now.

8) still haven't heard the new album.

9) Is there any genre that man can't do? I mean, seriously.

Joel Burdeaux said...

All I know is that I didn't enjoy even a second of SOTD, but loved every second of ZOMBIELAND.

Zombies are for killing. If you hesitate, you become one. The morally ambiguous are all dead by the time Z-land happens. Only those willing to kill survive.

Also, doesn't the flashback to the dorm room expose some of the initial struggle with killing zombies? He was only willing to kill 406 when she was trying to kill him. Sure, they imposed the "double tap" graphic, but the acting showed the struggle, even if the overall story-line did not.