The zombie movie — that evergreen vessel for all manner of social and political allegory — gets stripped down to its "Holy shit! Zombies! Run!" chassis in this fitfully amusing romp directed with little ambition and even less distinction by first-timer Ruben Fleischer. Set in a not-too-distant future (Roland Emmerich's apocalyptic 2012, set for release in November, is on the marquee at Grauman's Chinese Theatre), where most of mankind has gone flesh-eating crazy from a mad cow-style pandemic, Zombieland follows the requisite hardy band of uninfected survivors as they, like the Griswolds before them, make their way to the promised land of a Southern California amusement park. Woody Harrelson leads the charge as a leathery urban roughneck in the Snake Plissken mold, with Jesse Eisenberg (typecast, yet again, as a virginal neurotic), Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin (playing a couple of scam-artist sisters) riding shotgun. Ho-hum zombie mayhem lurks around every bend, but the movie's comic tone becomes increasingly strained (as does Eisenberg's logorrheic voiceover), up to and including an indulgent movie-star cameo by a certain deadpan genius usually more discerning in his choice of projects. Who ya gonna call? How about John Carpenter.
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