Friday, September 10

Review: Zombieland

For those who are just here to read the review, here it is:

Zombieland tells the story of a ragtag band of survivors who make a road trip though a post-zombieapocalypse America. The story has been told a million times, and Zombieland doesn't try to shake things up either. What it tries to do is deliver a good time, and it definitely works on that front (with an awesome cameo as a high point). And although it's a bit rough at the edges and pretty forgettable in the end, it's still a solid comedy for anyone who likes zombies.

Allright. Now if you bear with me for a moment, I would like to do a bit of movie analysis. You see, there is a movie that has an awful lot in common with Zombieland. You might in fact call it it's British counterpart. I am, of course, talking about Shaun of the Dead. And I just so happen to think that what differs in these movies is very telling for the moviemaking in the respective countries they were made in.
In other words, what can the differences in these movies tell us about the difference between British and American movies?

Even the damn posters look alike.

To start with the characters. Both movies have pretty much the same stereotypical characters in the lead roles: there's The Hero, The Sidekick, The Girl and The Innocent Character. But it's their personal quirks that give away their nationality. For example, The Hero in Zombieland is a neurotic nerd who is uncomfortable around women and thinks to much. He looks so much like Woody Allen it's almost uncanny. But while the hero might represent the more "artsy" side of American cinema, Woody Harrelson's character (The Sidekick) represents the more lowbrow variety. His Tallahassee is the kind of  powerhouse that has flocked American movies since Die Hard and Evil Dead II came out.

Compare this to Shaun and Ed. Shaun himself isn't much of a hero himself, but you would be hard pressed to find a sorer, less self-conscious loser then Ed in a movie. And this too is typical of contemporary British cinema. Shaun would fit in both a Richard Curtis (Notting Hill) and a Mike Leigh (Naked, Secrets and Lies) movie, while the chemistry between the duo isn't too different from that between the greatest British heroes ever: Wallace and Gromit. 

Something that's also telling is the way the story is put together. Shaun begins before the zombie invasion, while Zombieland takes place long after it. This allows Shaun to make jokes that revolve around Shaun and Eds boring, middle class life and how it is interrupted. The humor derives almost purely from the characters this way. This method of comedy has long been a staple of British humor, from The Office to Notting Hill. Zombieland, on the other hand, makes jokes mostly based on what the characters encounter. This style of comedy, in which set pieces are constantly thrown at the cast, is what made American shows like The Simpsons and South Park such a success.

And finally, it's worth noting that while both movies essentially revolve around getting from A to B, the B in question is radically different in both movies. In Shaun, the characters try to get to a pub: a place where you can unwind and discuss the world, girls and the like with your mates. In Zombieland, the place to go to is an amusement park: a place where there are flashy lights, adrenaline rushes and candy with enormous amounts of sugar in it.

Make of that what you want.


The music today is a song I really shouldn't like, but I can't help banging my head to a little every time I hear it.

No comments:

Post a Comment