People have been telling me to watch Zombieland for a while now. It becomes one of those repeated conversation segments where someone says something about Zombieland and I say I have never seen it which is quickly followed by, “You’ve never seen Zombieland?!” like I’ve missed some collective event that had such an impact on people’s lives I am missing out on a part of humanity.
So I watched it the other night. And I was not disappointed.
While it was no Citizen Kane (note to self: write review for Citizen Kane) it was a well-done little monster flick that does give you something to think about afterward as I found out yesterday while at the gym.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, come on! You haven’t seen Zombieland?! It takes place in post-zombie-apocalyptic America (the disease spread nowhere else in the world) where Columbus, played by Jesse Eisenberg (of Roger Dodger fame), is alone in a world of zombies trying to get back to his hometown to see if his parents are still alive. He’s developed a list of rules on how to survive in Zombieland and when he needs to be reminded of them, we’re reminded by seeing a little graphic pop-up on screen. It’s a funny little directorial trick that works well throughout the film. Bob McKee would not be happy about the constant voice-over, VO And for the love of God don’t use voice-over!, (if you’ve seen Adaptation you’d understand) and it’s a little annoying but not overly distracting.
Columbus runs into Tallahassee, played by Woody Harrelson (remember him from Cheers and White Men Can’t Jump?) who loves killing zombies…uh, again, I suppose since zombies are technically dead already, in unique ways. The “unlikely duo” team up and travel together until they meet Wichita and Little Rock, two young girls, who steal their truck, twice, then join to become a foursome traveling to California.
Ok, no more plot summary. So why is it good and is there anything to take out of a movie about zombies?
Columbus keeps reiterating how important it is to be prepared and have a plan in Zombieland. That’s what has kept him alive while almost everyone else is zombie food. Zombies typically represent the inevitability of death because they never stop, they don’t think, they consume, and if you kill one, there are always more coming. Whether it’s a shamble or a sprint, they don’t stop. You can run away but you will never be able to outrun them (hence the furious debates amongst the zombie enthusiasts who see Danny Boyle’s version of a zombie to be inconsistent with true zombie lore.) The fear comes not just from being killed by a zombie but from becoming one; from having the flesh chewed from your bones only to rise again to chew flesh yourself. You cease to exist as a person and become lifeless, listless, brainless, always eating but never satisfied.
Columbus really lives in a world we all live in. Death is coming (unfortunately) and most of us simply saunter around with no plan, no purpose, little direction, fuzzy goals, and then get surprised when a “real life” scenario presents itself. Someone dies or gets sick, and life is sent into chaos. Columbus has a plan and it keeps him alive and gives him purpose.
But his original purpose will only sustain him for so long and the people he meets and travels with provide and even greater purpose for surviving. The plan, surviving, these can’t be enough. There has to be something greater to survive for and that becomes his relationship with Wichita primarily, and his friends Tallahassee and Little Rock.
So the lesson for today is find something worth living for and make a plan to live the best you can for this greater purpose. Set goals and figure out how to make them happen. One of the better motivational quotes I’ve heard recently is that those who achieve what they desire, focus and follow through.
Otherwise, you might end up as zombie food.