Rated R

I once heard that, in regards to fashion, everything comes back around. In other words, if you hang on to that jean jacket long enough, it’ll be cool again. If you store those jelly shoes well, you’ll be able to use them to dress to impress. If you keep your Hypercolor in a cool, dry place, you’ll be all the rage at the arcade again. (Remember Hypercolor? Remember arcades?) But the fashion world isn’t the only place this rule applies. It also applies in Hollywood.

It’s no secret that Hollywood likes to recycle ideas. Whether you label it “remake” or “reimagining,” it’s still a re-do. And we’ve been seeing lots of re-dos lately. Practically every cartoon I loved as a kid has been made into a terrible movie. And now, studios are beginning to make movies based on board games. (Seriously. A movie version of Battleship is in the works. Appropriate response: “Wha?!”) All of that to say, whenever I see that a movie is being released that appears to be a clone of something that’s already been made, I mentally type a frowny faced emoticon on my imaginary status update of life.

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But every now and then, I’m pleasantly surprised. And this is the case with Zombieland.

I’ve got to admit, upon first seeing trailers for Zombieland, I thought it looked like a rip-off of Shaun of the Dead, which is one of the best (if not the only) zom-coms ever made. Which gave the movie one strike in my head. Next, I saw it starred Jesse Eisenberg, who is quickly becoming the top grad of the Michael Cera school of playing the same nervous/awkward guy in every movie he does. Strike two. So needless to say, I walked in with… tempered expectations.

Zombieland is the post-apocalyptic story of four strangers learning how to get along, and survive, in a world plagued with man-eating zombies. That’s really all you need to know about the story going in. Actually, that’s all you really need to know about any zombie movie going in. Mainly because that’s the story behind every zombie movie. But here’s what Zombieland does differently with that: nothing. In fact, it practically skips over what most zombie movies spend at least thirty to forty-five minutes explaining: how things got this way. The movie opens with the carnage already occurring all around.

So instead of wasting time with an origin, the movie devotes all of its time to its characters. Well, characters and zombie kills. It’s basically a road movie. Characters meet, set out for a destination, and funny things happen along the way. But while it doesn’t deviate too much from standard road/zombie clichés, it does have a few things working for it that make it special.

One is the rules for surviving a zombie epidemic. Things like cardio, seatbelts, and the double tap (two shots just to make sure) seem simple enough, but the way that they’re presented is both creative and super funny. It’s also got one of the best cameos I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not going to ruin it for you here, just know that when this person shows up, it’s great. I mean…great.

While Zombieland does have its share of violence, blood, and language, it’s played for laughs. It’s total popcorn, throw-away, action/comedy at its best. Turn off your brain, grab your best buddies, and enjoy.

Josh Treece has suspected a zombie invasion could be possible for some time now. He wrote down most of the rules form this movie to protect himself from zombies…just in case. When he’s not preparing for an army of the undead, he’s ministering to teenagers.

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