Helping to keep Columbus among the living is the wise cracking bad-ass Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), whose only goal other than survival is to find a Twinkie. He’s vulgar, funny and selfish on the outside, but underneath that rough exterior beats the heart of a hero. He’s like the Han Solo of zombie movies. Harrelson hasn’t had a starring role in a mainstream movie like this for a while, but he clearly still has his movie star chops. His performance here is every bit as iconic as his Larry Flynt, Roy Munson or Mickey Knox. In short, he owns this movie.
Tallahassee and Columbus eventually meet up with Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). The girls were pulling cons together before the plague hit, a skill that serves them well in the “everyone for themselves” world of Zombieland. After overcoming some trust issues, the four head for California hoping to reach an amusement park the girls believe is zombie-free. Not likely, but at least there might be Twinkies.
It’s not as over the top as Peter Jackson’s Dead/Alive or as hilarious as Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, but Zombieland nonetheless manages to carve out its own enjoyable little niche in the zom com genre. Chances are it’ll be an even bigger niche than either of those films, since without the excessive gore and references to other movies, Zombieland works as well for mainstream audiences as it does for the zombie faithful. It also boasts a secret weapon: a surprise extended cameo from a comedy legend who shall remain nameless here, although if you want to spoil the surprise you can look it up on IMDB. The cameo is perhaps dragged out a bit too long, but it provides a lot of laughs. For that matter, so does the rest of Zombieland. ***