By John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service
"Zombieland" (Columbia/Relativity) is a wryly amusing but at times wildly gruesome genre satire that combines elements of a road movie, a buddy flick and a romantic comedy.
Set in a ruined world where hordes of cannibal zombies prey on the few remaining humans, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick's post-apocalyptic tale tracks the odd-couple adventures of a phobia-plagued slacker known as Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and a fearless gunslinger called Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson).
As these unlikely monikers suggest, one of the script's conceits is that, in an environment where everyone is on the move in search of safety and where too much trust is dangerous, people identify themselves by place names rather than personal ones.
Despite their conflicting personalities and divergent survival techniques—Columbus has an elaborate set of rules for evading the predators, while Tallahassee actively seeks them out and mows them down with abandon—the pair forms an uneasy alliance. But their partnership is repeatedly strained after they cross paths with sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), whose own success at withstanding zombie attacks is not based on being the innocents they initially seem.
Though this is anything but family-friendly cinema, adults with a high tolerance for graphic nastiness and casually dispensed foul language may discern some honorable values behind the uproarious, corpse-ridden proceedings of director Ruben Fleischer's feature debut.
Thus, inspired by a touching nostalgia for more innocent times, Columbus longs to return to his parents, though he also regrets the shallowness of his past relationship with them. Moved by a similar impulse, Wichita and Little Rock dream of revisiting a California amusement park where they often enjoyed themselves in happier days.
The characters also display a beleaguered yearning for solidarity, whether expressed through the friendship that eventually bonds all four or through the gently caring romance that develops between Columbus and Wichita.
The film contains much gory violence, including cannibalism, partial upper female nudity, drug use, a few profanities, frequent crude and crass language, and an obscene gesture. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted; Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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