I wanted to like this movie. I really did. I loved Shaun of the Dead. I figured that "zombie" + "comedy" was a formula that really couldn't be screwed up. Well, I was right. Just turns out they forgot the comedy. Okay, to be fair, there is comedy here, it's just not my kind of comedy, apparently. Nearly every single time I chuckled during this movie was at the stupidity. I even watched this a second time. My initial reaction was that this was the worst movie I'd seen in ages. I've backed off from that, but I think it's still pretty bad.
I have an especially deep loathing of the main character, "Columbus." He narrates through-out the movie, and it's annoying. Who is he talking to? He admits straight off that there's no people left. He's not recording anything, and the narration is never interesting. He even finishes the movie by "signing off" like he's broadcasting. It's simple "tell, don't show" movie making, since apparently they didn't have any way to actually develop characters or impart information beyond the narration. And he has these stupid rules. The rules all make sense, in context, but the way they're incorporated into the film is annoying. The film makers already had the narration device to annoy us with, but apparently, they really thought the audience was a bunch of drooling morons because Columbus's rules are plastered on the screen at the points they apply. Every time they apply. God forbid you allow your audience to make their own connection between him shooting a zombie twice and his "Rule #2: Double-tap." Further, Columbus is never given any real incentive to break his rules beyond thinking with his dick. And yet he does break them, despite it being hammered in to the audience about how useful these rules are. Worst of all, to really drive home how pathetic Columbus is, he shakes like a leaf during his first meeting with the only good thing in this movie, Tallahassee. They have a stand-off, pointing guns at each other, and Columbus couldn't have looked more scared if he pissed himself. Or crap himself, because he has Irritable Bowel Syndrome! Isn't that HILARIOUS?! Except it's mentioned maybe three times at the start of the movie, and then dropped. There's no pay off, no running joke. It's just to give a cheap gag about poop. Oh, Columbus is scared of clowns. Remember that, because it's only said once at the start, but it's kinda important later. And despite regularly stumbling across better weapons, he keeps his double-barrelled shotgun through the movie. A weapon that needs to be reloaded after every two shots. And he regularly uses it at range, too. Stupid.
And then there's just so much other random stupidity, like during a fight with a zombie, Columbus wraps its head in a shower curtain, but it manages to use its tongue to punch through and vomit blood in the process. Stupid. Tallahassee only uses a melee weapon once before discarding it. Makes sense on the surface, except that he wears the same clothes all the time, so obviously he's not worried about contaminated blood. Or, since blood seems to go everywhere except on the characters (including the camera), maybe he is. Or the scheme some people come up with that relies on people keyed up on adrenaline from fleeing zombies and scavenging to survive not to shoot instantly when requested to or needing to. A point which is actually proven later in the movie, with an even more stupid moment involving a cameo. This all excludes just the bone-deep plot-required stupidity of all the characters. Even time itself gets stupid in this movie. At one point, Columbus wakes up probably near mid-day, gets his car stolen, we see the thieves driving over time, they get to their destination around dusk, then break in to a building at their destination at full dark. Ignoring the time lapse between the arrival and break-in of the thieves, when that only should have taken about 10 minutes, hours have passed with Columbus not doing anything. Then he and Tallahassee decide to go after and get their car back, since they know where the thieves were going. So, several hours need to pass for the two to get there, according to daylight measurements. Yet if you watch, it seems to take them less than an hour to catch up.
The zombies themselves also fall apart if you think about it too much. They're basically the rage zombies from 28 Days Later. Columbus even says it's a virus that makes you aggressive and hungry. So, unless this is some kind of super-virus, people should recover, or have natural immunity, or anything else that applies to real viruses. But this seems to have pretty much a 100% infection rate. It's hard to tell since the movie never really addresses how one becomes a zombie. It's implied that it's from a bite, but since the zombies tend to chew their victims to pieces, that can't be the only way. And for a virus, it kinda makes people look nasty rather quickly. Overnight, someone goes from completely healthy to rotting zombie. This is why movies usually go with "unexplained, probably mystical source" for zombism. You never see a zombie missing a limb here, or anything like that, which says zombies in this movie can die from blood loss or anything else people die from (since they're just sick people, after all), but they're vomiting blood all over the place, and bleeding from places, and look to be decaying very quickly, so how did the zombies last long enough to do any real damage? They should have died from blood loss and decomp within a day or two.
No, I really wanted to like Zombieland, and it did nearly everything it could to make me hate it violently. However, it did throw me a bone. A glorious, shining beacon in the darkness. Tallahassee. He is a bad-ass in the vein of Ash from Army of Darkness. He takes no prisoners and leaves no ass unkicked. He's a redneck on a rampage with a heart of gold. He's got to have a heart of gold to put up with the whiny Columbus, and not shoot the people who stole his Cadillac and his gun, and then hijacked him later. He's even got a heartbreaking backstory which I won't ruin. Though I will say Tallahassee said his mom told him "Some day you'll find something you're good at." Ouch. Well, at least it was being good at killing zombies. Honestly, I could recommend watching Zombieland just for Tallahassee. If the rest of the movie was done as well as Tallahassee, this could be the best zombie movie ever. But it's not.
For Tallahassee's sake, though, rent this, watch it once, and bask in his awesomeness.