The opening paragraph is where I'd generally say something obvious but true like "Man, it's tough to make a rock-solid horror comedy. For every winner like Gremlins, Tremors, and Shaun of the Dead we have three of four corny losers -- and I'm not just talking about the Scary Movie movies." But since I say that sort of thing all the time, and since Ruben Fleischer's Zombieland is such a resounding success from stem to stern, I'll forgo such obviousness and just kick in with the childlike enthusiasm and movie geek happiness:
This flick rocks!
Equal parts horror, comedy, romance, action flick, and road movie, the instantly lovable Zombieland stars Woody Harrrelson and Jesse Eisenberg as a ridiculously unlikely odd couple who travel through post-apocalyptic America, blasting zombies away at every opportunity. Along the way Tallahassee (Harrelson) and Columbus (Eisenberg) stumble across Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), two devious young women who are as quick as they are ill-prepared to deal with a world full of zombies. (OK, Wichita is kind of a butt-kicker, but her little sis is no more than 12 years old.)
But of course our four heroes manage to team up and kick-start a road trip to "Pacific Playland," mostly because it's reputed to be a zombie-free amusement park ... but also because it's important to have a little fun, even during the end of the world. But the real fun of Zombieland lies in the journey (although the destination is pretty kick-ass), simply because the four leads are so great, the premise is so simply appealing, and the tone is unwaveringly amusing.
First-timer Fleischer strikes a powerfully strong balance between gross-out gore gags and a consistently affable humorous approach. Eisenberg and Harrelson achieve an instantly endearing "hero/sidekick" relationship, Stone and Breslin add a perfect pinch of spice and (eventually) sweetness, and the flick as a whole absolutely breezes by on sheer force of wit, color, and craftily restrained mayhem.
Almost guaranteed to please the horror fans and comedy kooks in equal measure, Zombieland is a pitch-perfect example of how tasty the "horror/comedy" combo can be. Hats off to Fleischer, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and everyone from the DP to the composer. I'm not fully prepared to call Zombieland the best horror comedy ever made ... but it just might be the best American comedy horror ever made.