Zombieland

On DVD and streaming on Netflix.

Clearly, I’ve played way too much Fallout 3 in my time because I could barely watch Zombieland without shrieking at the characters, who didn’t seem to have my hard-won expertise at surviving under post-apocalyptic conditions. “Shouldn’t you be foraging through that abandoned grocery store?” I’d cry. “Don’t just trash the place.” I’d shake my head in frustration when they wasted ammunition with celebratory shots in the air, and I never could handle the way they’d saunter blithely into an unfamiliar building instead of methodically scoping it out and clearing it. “These people deserve to die,” I’d grumble.

I’m not usually this insistent on practicality in suspense movies. (I rather liked Red Eye, for example, only recognizing after the fact how many flat-out idiotic mistakes Rachel McAdams makes in attempting to escape psycho Cillian Murphy.) But Zombieland pulls a bait-and-switch. The opening narration is all about our protagonist’s rules for surviving among the undead, and I was excited about this cinematic Zombie Survival Guide. Tips! But then it turns out that the movie isn’t so much about how to defeat zombies as it is about the value of community and how No Man Is an Island, et cetera, et cetera, and weirdly, this annoyed me no end. What’s more, the serious themes don’t gibe with the flip tone, making for a scattershot film, reveling in gross-out slapstick one minute and trying to do something semi-heartfelt the next. I couldn’t keep up with the record-skip mood shifts.