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Geek Love: Flesh Eating Undead serves as backdrop to sappy love story in Zombieland 

Flesh Eating Undead serves as backdrop to sappy love story in Zombieland.

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The first five minutes of Zombieland depict some of the best chewing, spewing and gore-guzzling zombies ever seen on film amidst side-splitting comedy. Unfortunately, what follows does not live up to the film's early promise. It's as if the grand finale starts the show.

This is not a Zombie movie to rival Shaun of the Dead. Mostly, it's a poorly directed love story with interspersed moments of humor. Zombies serve only as comedic background for a feeble and redundant story of love and angst. Too many "touchy-feely" moments interfere with the sort of guts splattering and zombie killing scenes that make for zombie film gold.

The humor in Zombieland is as thin as the explanation for the worldwide zombie epidemic: mad cow disease transferred to people, eventually turning nearly everyone into zombies. The plot revolves around four misfits who have survived the world-turned zombie as they travel to a place where there may be more survivors.

Constructing a tongue-in-flesh-eating-cheek love story with a severe lack of zombies and not enough substance, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick insert too much "lets-put-this-in-because-we-think-it's-funny" stuff. Director Ruben Fleischer doesn't do much to improve the script. Fresh off the Jimmy Kimmel Live show, Fleisher shows his inexperience. The storytelling is filled with quick tell-all flashbacks synonymous with late-night TV narratives. Wheeling off into tangents and sauntering around aimlessly, this flick explores love and loss from a wimps' perspective.

Woody Harrelson plays a gun-toting zombie killer Tallahassee (characters go by aliases named after their hometown) who is also in search of the perfect Twinkie. Not only is he a badass, he's a big crybaby. Luckily, his take on macho stupidity elevates the humor level above most of the nonsense we're forced to endure. Emma Stone (Wichita) elaborates on her Superbad character by coming off super bad. I liked Jesse Eisenberg (Columbus) in Rodger Dodger where his smartass intellect found a character with the ability to listen and learn. Here, Eisenberg's nebbish behavior is forced into our face for the entire movie, through relentless voiceover narration alongside his character's constant jabbering. A saving grace is that Eisenberg and Harrelson make the most of their chemistry with some hilarious dialogue. Abigail Breslin's (Little Rock), only function seems to be to prove she's grown up a tad since Little Miss Sunshine.

The slow pace of this road trip gives this flick plenty of time to stew in its own juices. By the time we get to the zombie showdown showcasing carnival rides, I was so done in by all the inconsistencies that I found it hard to care or even root for the characters. Just as the undead need to devour human flesh, Zombieland needed more meat to chew on.

Zombieland ★★✩✩✩

Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin. Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Rated R


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