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Leave them at home and you’ll love ‘Zombieland!’


'ZOMBIELAND': Starring Woody Harrelson.
  • 'ZOMBIELAND': Starring Woody Harrelson.

Somewhere in the Venn diagram of youth tastes, in the purple space between web nerds and hipsters and meatheads and ironic “Fangoria” quasi-Goths and no-shirts-with-overalls Coors drinkers, lies a Holy Grail of mass appeal called The Perfect Zombie Movie. Director Ruben Fleischer's “Zombieland” is a peg too shallow and predictable for that designation, but you've never seen a movie work harder to reach its vast target demographic: any 17- to 28-year-old ever to fantasize about touching a boob or popping a zombie's skull with a sledgehammer. Woody Harrelson is at his snakeskin-jacket-clad, automatic weapon-slinging finest. The only two of-age females are girl-next-door bombshells with the sort of raccoon-y eyeshadow that begs to be smudged in a backseat makeout session. The overture from Mozart's “Marriage of Figaro” plays as the four protagonists trash a roadside souvenir shop in cathartic slo-mo. Zombies get killed with yard tools and a high degree of sadism. Seriously: something for everyone.

Whence these damn zombies? As our narrator and hero (Jesse Eisenberg, so reminiscent of Michael Cera that you'll wonder whether the dude from “Juno” grew a 'fro) explains, zombieism is the plague of the 21st century: “Mad Cow became Mad Person became Mad Zombie.” But if you're wondering about science facts, you should really just relax, because all you need to know is that a germaphobic “World of Warcraft”-addicted wiener has been plopped into a post-apocalyptic America overrun with zombies of the modern sprinting variety. He's Columbus, so-called because Harrelson's Tallahassee, a “Blue Collar Comedy” version of Mad Max, wary of personal attachment, likes to use destinations as handles. They intersect with sisters Wichita (a vampy Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin, a head taller since “Little Miss Sunshine”), who cunningly relieve Columbus and Tallahassee of their shotguns and their Escalade with the Dale Earnhardt “3” painted on its doors.

Once the men recover — smash up a minivan with a crowbar, adopt a Hummer with a small arsenal in its back seat — the foursome winds up on a plot-free road trip to a West Coast amusement park that Wichita is determined to treat Little Rock to. After a detour to a certain actor's Beverly Hills manse that alone justifies the price of admission, matters take a turn for the stupid when Wichita and Little Rock decide to ditch the lads and head, heedlessly, to the amusement park. Alone. At night. (Cue zombies!) But by then, you've suspended your disbelief so long it might as well be expelled. “Zombieland” demands that you shut off your frontal lobe, but it's nothing if not a groveling crowd-pleaser. You'll maximize your entertainment buck by seeing it with the largest, loudest, drunkest, dumbest audience you can find.

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