Director Ruben Fleischer doesn’t get around to disclosing everybody’s problems, and that benefits the movie, which zips from one moment to the next with only one real scene that drags (It features a certain A-list star and is, nevertheless, hilarious). The build-up to the final act promises to mix zombies and a theme park, and without giving too much away, I can say the filmmakers deliver the goods. Think of your favorite kiddie-land rides and amusement park features; for the most part, they’re here and integrated into some pretty satisfying action sequences.
The cast is uniformly terrific, especially Harrelson and Breslin. After a decade in which his career seemed to go comatose, the former has found his comeback role, the kind of potential scenery-chewer many veteran actors would line up for. But Harrelson wisely plays Tallahassee with utmost sincerity, which acts to ground some of the curious things he does and says. (When the character claims he hasn’t "cried this hard since he saw Titanic," we totally believe him.) Meanwhile, Breslin, barely recognizable from her Little Miss Sunshine days, steals quite a few scenes from the rest of the cast, including one in which she fires a shotgun into the air as a warning, then smilingly remarks on the improbability of it. "All those violent video games," she says.
Like Shaun of the Dead before it, Zombieland is an offbeat, unexpectedly sanguine entry to a niche genre. Some viewers may have problems with the last act: at the preview screening I attended, I overheard audience members questioning why anybody would choose to awaken a theme park at night, since the end result would be lots of lights and noises that would attract zombies. Their argument is totally valid, but I would point out the rumor of no zeds in that part of town, as well as the movie’s overall theme that fun often goes against self-preservation.