Greetings and Salutations, Blog Readers!
It is time for another review/discussion of a piece of zombie content that I enjoy, and that hopefully you have seen: Zombieland!
I thought it would be fun to review the second movie in the franchise, “Zombieland 2: Double Tap”, as well as discuss how the ditzy character, Madison, was totally underrated, and how the new character, Nevada, is an awesome badass, but I figured it would be best to first discuss the first movie in the franchise.
So, grab some popcorn and soda, and lets watch and discuss this movie.
By now, the movie has been out a smidge over 10 years, (10/2/09) so I will be speaking of “spoilers” as freely as I wish to, and I will likely not be calling “spoilers” for much of anything because I feel like maybe you have seen it by now, or don’t care enough to not have it spoiled. It’s been a decade.
Movie opens with the character we will later call Columbus, explaining that this is now the United States of Zombieland. The entire country has, apparently, been overran in the weeks following patient zero, who is defined as a guy who took a bite out of an infected burger with some demented kind of mad cow disease.
In the intro, we learn of some key rules:
2: The Double Tap
3: Beware of Bathrooms
(As you may or may not know, I follow all of these rules minus cardio in my every day life, and I am working on adding the cardio in.) We learn early on that Columbus is scared of bathrooms…and also clowns. I don’t blame him on the bathrooms part of his phobia’s.
Will this matter later? You bet your perceptive at foreshadowing ass it will!
Fantastic opening credits reveal some scenes from the outbreak and ensuing chaos, until finally we return to Columbus, who is trying to get from Austin Texas, not far from me actually, a three hour drive, to Columbus Ohio, a VERY far drive, where his parents live.
Yes, this is how he gets his name. They remove any real names, probably to really show the difference in the regular world and Zombieland. Disassociation from reality as a reaction to the situation, some sort of coping through active PTSD, is how I have always interpreted it, anyways. Tallahassee simply says “Keeps us from getting too familiar” but other then a sentimental moment later, between Wichita and Columbus, the gang never uses their real names, even though the next movie is literally ten years later. So, I don’t think Tallahassee’s simple explanation is accurate. Because obviously, they are family, Tallahassee himself says family, so why would they keep using each others names eh? No the reason is obvious, to me.
To me, it seems everyone is suffering from some sort of PTSD, or at very least, some massive disassociation, to try and cope with the zombie world they live In now. I could be reading too much into it too. But then again, you are here reading my blog about me reading too much into zombie content, so let’s not get judgmental, eh?
Anyways, Columbus is in Garland, Texas, which means he made it a pretty long ways on his own, which he credits to following his rules. (Not to mention, anyone who has been to Austin, specifically UT Austin, or ANY of the colleges in the area, knows what a death trap the city would be.) We then see the scene I mentioned earlier where these rules all come into play, with Columbus running around, Cardio, buckling his seatbelt, (after finally getting into the car after all the running for time) failing to check the back seat (that being another rule) and killing a zombie after crashing.
After Columbus’s adventure, we see him walking with his suitcase before running into Tallahassee’s character, played by Woody Harrelson. Woody’s character, as we nearly immediately find out, is a badass, sent straight from the script to be the badass of the film. We also learn of his mission to find a Twinkie, which is apparently the only thing stronger than the urge to kill zombies. Killin zombies like a badass and searching the Zombieland landscape for a Twinkie, is Tallahassee. Both of these factors are probably in reaction to the trauma of having his child eaten, along with other factors.
Through flashbacks, we see more of Columbus’s life before the outbreak, including how awkward he is and how he never left his house. Make no mistake, while gamers won’t have tons of advantages in the apocalypse, they will have some, like not being anywhere with people where they could get infected.
So Tallahassee agrees to take Columbus “as far as Texarkana” because, as Tallahassee says “I’m difficult to get along with and I’m sensing you’re a bit of a bitch.” Which works out well for Columbus. Columbus, to me, probably knows there is a bit of safety in numbers, but Tallahassee is going to be a bit more distant, as his is character type.
The first thing we learn about Tallahassee, after this general “badassedry” is that he loves, and is always on the search for Twinkies. Ironically, we see a scene where the two check a hostess truck for Twinkies, and if you pause the screen when the camera is inside the truck, you realize that had Tallahassee searched properly, he would have gotten his Twinkie. At least, the packaging on a few sure LOOKS like it says Twinkie, not Snowballs. This happens twice in the film, possibly missed Twinkies, that I have noticed. I love Snowballs.
The two do bond, however, as they travel, moving vehicles out of the way, talking about sex, but never about anything too deep. Tallahassee later confides that the zombies ate his puppy, and that is why he has such rage with the zombies.
Hint it wasn’t a puppy.
Yup, obviously Tallahassee is the type he is because zombies ate his kid, but Columbus is stupid, and doesn’t figure that out until much later. (I told you I am not going to call spoilers every time, if you haven’t watched it by now I don’t know what to tell you.)
Speaking of stupid boys, Tallahassee and Columbus check out a grocery store and run into our two female characters, who we later call Wichita and Little Rock. They continue to call each other by these names, again, for a decade…despite being…sisters….So, more proof to my theory that everyone is disassociating pretty hard.
The girls then scam the boys, obligatory drama for the movie, telling them the little sister, Little Rock, was bitten, and that they needed a gun to put her down. The bite was fake and the girls steal the guns and keys and take off in the ride, and we have…our drama. As Wichita says as they leave “Better you make the mistake of trusting us than we make the mistake of trusting you.”
Frankly, I hate any “hurt others” instead of grouping up that happens in zombie stories. Sure, people are bad, don’t trust them, but like…why make enemies? I also get why these two, on their own, would do it. I get not trusting but also, why hurt other people? Why risk their survival, or possible future enemies.
Frankly, if my sister and I were in the same situation, more so when she was younger and could play up the cute kid bit…yeah, we probably would have done the same. But also, it does lead to Tallahassee wanting to kill him, and I wouldn’t want to risk that either.
I was younger then, and therefore not as enlightened about how to best approach the problem of zombies. Anyways, my understanding and relation to the characters aside, lets get back to the story so we can inevitably get the characters to become “family”.
The guys wander around, find another car, commentary on America and our dedication to guns and large vehicles, the car is functionally the same setup Tallahassee had enjoyed before, only this is a yellow hummer over the sleek nice black number he had. (Optional Twinkie reference, as it is a giant yellow hummer, and the “sweet” filling is the massive gun bag in the back seat) (Rule #31- Check the backseat.)
The guys carry on the road, Tallahassee wanting revenge, now telling us all about his puppy, Buck, which absolutely fuels his anger with anything else in the world. We get a new rule, courtesy of Tallahassee- Rule #32- “Enjoy the Little Things.”
As the two continue down the road discussing the nature of home, they see their old vehicle on the side of the road, broken down, and they pull over, only to be overtaken by the girls again. In fairness, Tallahassee said “It is probably a trap” and thought he had the situation sorted by having Columbus hang back while he checked it out. Tallahassee was wrong.
Important to note that Little Rock is twelve when this is going on, and Wichita is in her late teens, early twenties or whatever. Tallahassee is a fully grown man, easily the oldest in the film by a decade or more even with holiday aging rules applied, and Columbus is a college student, and yet here they are, bested, not once, but twice, by the ladies, one of which has arguably not even hit puberty yet. “All those violent video games” as Little Rock says.
The ladies, however, have mercy, and they let the boys join them in the vehicle, and the little group carries on until Tallahassee pulls a gun on Little Rock, forcing the whole thing to stop, when Wichita pulls her gun on Tallahassee. In the deleted scenes we see the girls leave the guys and then come back for them after Little Rock points out that some animals keep the weaker animals around so when predators came they could outrun he weak. Still this scene was cut so instead the story is the second time they say hey you guys can come with. So, the ladies allow the guys to come while holding them at gun point, Tallahassee overtakes Little Rock, Wichita pulls her gun… Again, can’t blame her, point a gun at my sister and even when I am mad at her, I’ll fucking straight up kill you. Sisters are weird that way, I guess, and these two really do show the way sisters are so ride or die for each other.
Columbus finally screams about the zombies who are a bigger enemy and how they should be able to “drive down the road playing ‘I Spy’ like four normal ass Americans”. This leads to them all calming down and just driving, versus trying to hold each other at gun point, with one person holding an advantage.
The group begins to talk, and we find that the ladies are heading to a theme park, in California, Pacific Playland. Columbus asks about Columbus, and Wichita, still not warmed up to the guys, snaps about how its burned to the ground, before realizing he was hoping to still see his family alive. Tallahassee pokes her and she is like ‘oh shit. You’re Columbus.’
This whole part makes little sense. Like, what are the arbitrary rules of naming yourselves these city and state names, like First name Tallahassee, last name Florida? What are the rules? Dude is named Columbus, all of y’all are calling him Columbus, he asks about Columbus and you are like “they are playing the silent game in Columbus Ohio, ghost town, burned to the ground.”
Annoying. But, it is what it is. I could go on at length about the names in Zombieland. This brash conversation does lead to Wichita finally backing off and being a bit kinder, and the group can advance a bit.
Columbus makes the choice to stay with the group, after they found him a vehicle to head towards Ohio, after realizing that he had “found” something he didn’t want to let go of. “Wherever this girl was, that is where I wanted to be.” (Even if her commitment issues are PROFOUND and absolutely drive plot in BOTH movies in the franchise.)
From then on, the group forms a bit of a bond, slowly traveling across the country.
The gang drives into the night, and finally stops to “enjoy the little things” and destroy a Native American (likely appropriated stuff) roadside store, but not after learning of a new rule, #17: Don’t be a hero. We also learn about “Zombie kill of the week”- in which a zombie is killed in a cool, creative fashion.
After more driving, the group arrives in California, and find a map to the stars home.
Tallahassee insists he knows the perfect place, and takes them to Bill Murrays house, who all but Little Rock love. Little Rock, doesn’t know, her sister defending her by saying “she’s twelve.”
Mind you, I had heard of him before I was 8, so…points OFF Little Rock, and same to Wichita for not showing her sister Bill Murray. I would be mortified if my sister didn’t know Bill Murray by 12.
Bill Murray, they assume, is dead, but they are wrong. While Little Rock and Columbus check out the movie theater in Murray’s house, and Columbus does what Wichita kept messing up, and introduces Little Rock to Bill Murray in Ghostbusters.
Meanwhile, Bill Murray surprises Witchita an Tallahassee, causing Wichita to hit him with a golf club. Bill Murray, we learn, dresses as a zombie to let him live the life he likes, namely an active one. (Foreshadowing)
This is when we learn something that frankly drives me CRAZY that we never see again.
The zombies can be fooled by looks alone?
Bill Murray says that he has been golfing, shopping, OUT AND ABOUT, without any issues, because he did zombie makeup.
And yet in the rest of this movie, and the following movie, NO ONE ever revisit this strategy. I do suspect Madison may have, but we never get confirmation of this, and this scene is the only mention of this ability to dress as a zombie and wonder around unbothered.
Drives me nuts, but then Witichta and Tallahassee smoke weed with Murray, and its fun. More obligatory Ghostbusters references while they smoke, and Columbus and Little Rock watch the movie, until finally Witcita and Tallahassee with Murray decide to prank Columbus…who still has his gun.
As you can probably see coming, Columbus shoots Bill Murray who is pretending to be a zombie.
Not a great prank. I hate this idea that weed makes you stupid because never, not one single time, while smoking cannabis, has the idea of dressing as and acting like a zombie, as a joke, in a zombie apocalypse, to a man who is twitchy and armed, seemed like a good idea.
Never. Not once.
Every time, the idea seems dumb.
And every time, Murray dies.
Something I do in Flake City is have my characters have ideas that are bad, but then they don’t do those ideas.
Sometimes they do, sure, but, I have entire sections where a character is talking about doing a very stupid thing, just to never get a chance to do the dumb thing. That is also a human thing, and I just want to point out that sometimes you don’t do the dumb thing, either because you realize it is a bad idea, or get overran with zombies before you can.
So, the night continues, and the gang plays monopoly, talking about the best parts of life before Zombieland, and over the game, played with real money, Tallahassee explains that he misses buck, Buck, who had his appetite, his looks, his laughs…
And this is when Columbus realizes that Buck was a human child, not a puppy.
After this, Tallahassee shoots to blow off steam, and teaches Little Rock, who probably more than a little needs a parent figure, how to shoot a gun.
Will we see a dramatic scene later where she follows his advice and makes a key shot?
OF COURSE WE WILL.
Movie cliches are movie cliches, folks!
But, not before Wichita grabs a bottle of nice wine and drinks with Columbus, eventually dancing with him, nearly kissing him, (after he asked her real name and didn’t get it) which will of course lead to the freak out she has about commitment.
I know plenty of people who review Zombieland one or two, they tend to give Wichita a hard time.
YEah, it is fucking annoying when someone seduces you and runs away because they get scared.
It’s hella human.
Come on. This girl clearly has trust issues, they were running scams to survive in this cruel, cruel world, long BEFORE the zombies showed up.
Anyways, Columbus is mad Tallahassee “cock blocked him” and eventually convinces him to join him to go find the girls. “They were in someones wallet too” referring to the picture of Buck Tallahassee keeps in his duct tape wallet.
I am not so sure this is true, because it sure as hell seems like these two have maybe been on their own a while, and likely haven’t had parents in quite a long while…but the sentiment works on Tallahassee.
The girls, meanwhile, are slowly being overtaken by zombies, because turning on a bunch of noisy rides with lights in the middle of a zombie apcolpyse, is a super stupid idea. I mean, I get it, Wichita, you wanna make your sister smile and feel like a kid again, I TOTALLY get that, but you need to make sure your sister lives to see adulthood.
A super stupid idea topped only by the idea to jump on another ride as a passenger to get away from zombies. They were on a safer ride for avoiding zombies and moved to a more vulnerable position. Ugh. But the ladies do that foolish move, and thankfully, the guys can come to their rescue, after Columbus pulls on Tallahassee’s heartstrings to get the former badass now father figure badass, to go with him to save them.
Tallahassee acts like the badass he is, luring many zombies to him, and Columbus takes off after the girls, now on a large ride, stalled out.
Stalled out how, you ask? Why, Little Rock’s lesson with ole Papa Tallahassee about how to shoot.
She shot the machine which magically turned it off, but still left it operating enough to be turned off and lower the girls to safety once the girls are gone.
This is a bit cheesy, and way too on the nose, but then again, I haven’t had to apply any shooting lessons in a high pressure situation, so what the fuck do I even know, anyways, amiright?
Tallahassee goes through a zombie riddled scary house which is actually pretty damned terrifying, (more so if you THINK about it) and Tallahassee gets ready for a show down, for a dramatic scene where Tallahassee works out some demons of his child being eaten by a zombie, (is my assertion) while his replacement son goes to save his lady and Tallahassees new replacement young child, Little Rock, because this movie is all about the archetypes.
“Oh? But does the young man have to face some fear he has mentioned all along?”
Oh you mean like his fear of clowns he has talked about since the start of the film, and how he has to go through a clown to get to Wichita and Little Rock to save them?
Well LUCKY US, because THATS WHAT HAPPENS.
But, you don’t mind it, because of the new rule #17, (because some rules are meant to be broken) Be a Hero.
Columbus literally says “Fuck this Clown” and wastes the clown, before dropping the ride, which in turn kills the last zombie that had been crawling on the ride. Wichita now tells Columbus that her real name is Krista, but we NEVER mention this again, not in the rest of this movie or the sequel.
Oh well. The good guy gets the girl by the sunny sea.
And the badass gets a new child to replace his lost one.
Like plenty of stories before it.
But, I will say, I love seeing these stories played out with zombies, and, as I have probably not mentioned enough, in a comedic manner.
Because Zombieland is a comedy zombie movie.
But, a damn good one, one you can easily analyze and dig into archetypes about.
And the big guy got his Twinkie, given to him by Little Rock, who I guess didn’t miss the many that Tallahassee did.
So, Columbus finds his family, the thing he has been looking for all along, playing on even more story types, but it’s fun, enjoyable, and, honestly, if you haven’t watched it a ton of times, you may not find It as obvious – it isn’t a bad thing to have archetypes like this.
I mean, in Zombieland, what else would you want? A group of people to survive with, the same damn thing you want here in the real world.
Which is why I love zombie movies. And I like Zombieland a lot. If you like these kinds of zombie review/discussions, let me know, and if you want more discussion, in depth analysis on some of these films I review, don’t worry, I do tend to dive in after I post my review, but I like to get the review up to give people a chance to watch it and enjoy the deeper discussion.
So, stay tuned for deeper stuff and more zombie reviews.
Thanks for Reading!