Zombieland (2009)


“Time to nut up or shut up!”

The Scoop: 2009 R, directed by Ruben Fleischer and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone

Tagline: This place is so dead

Summary Capsule: Surviving the end of the world either takes a meticulous list of 32 rules or a heapload of ammo. Take your pick.


Justin’s rating: If I told you that I left the theater with a huge smile on my face and my fist up in the air, a la Bender from Breakfast Club, that should tell you one thing – this is one of the best movies of the year.

Justin’s Review: As Zombieland’s Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) likes to make a list of rules for surviving a zombie epidemic, so I would like to make a list of what it takes to create one of the best horror-comedies of all time:

Rule #1: Don’t be afraid to give the audience an amazing hero to root for.  For Zombieland, it’s Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson playing Woody Harrelson), a full-fledged redneck with a penchant for two things – killing zombies and eating Twinkies.  When everyone else in the world is fleeing the raging undead, he’s gleefully running toward them with as much ammo as he can carry.

Rule #2: Have a catchy catchphrase.  Evil Dead 2?  “Groovy.”  Zombieland?  “Nut up or shut up.”

Rule #3: Don’t forget to bring the funny.  Shaun of the Dead was spot-on hilarious… until the third act got a little too serious and a lot less snarky.  Zombieland keeps the pressure up on your funnybone until the very last scene with nary a “bummer” scene to be seen.

Rule #4: Have the best celebrity cameo OF ALL TIME.

Rule #5: Keep the characters likable.  For all his swagger, Tallahassee is a good-natured hillbilly, and for all his dorkiness, Columbus throws out quips and momentary heroics that matter.  Throw in a pair of scamming sisters, and you’ve got the formation of a long-running sitcom family – or the four people you’d most want to survive the zombipocalypse.  You know, aside from yourself.

Rule #6: It’s cathartic to make fun of the scary flesh-eaters.  For decades now we’ve been wincing and shrieking from the grisly unstoppable zombies, so it’s like lancing a boil to see them become the butt of our heroes’ jokes (and on the receiving end of their shotgun shells).

Rule #7: Crank up some awesome tunes.  Metallica?  Van Halen?  Velvet Underground?  Blue Oyster Cult?  Hank Williams?  Oh yeah, this film is metal.

Rule #8: A little kissy-kissy doesn’t hurt, either.  Romance after the fall of the world?  That’s hope for a better future, right there.

Rule #9: If it makes the scene rock, then it’s momentarily okay to throw believability and common sense out of the window.

Rule #10: And as Tallahassee says, it’s good to enjoy the little things.  Like zombie clowns, painting a “3” on the side of every stolen car, rollercoaster rampages and educating the little ones on the importance of Ghostbusters.

Rule #11: Be entertaining through and through.  While some may debate this, less than a half decade after Shaun of the Dead set the standard for recent zombie comedies (Dead Alive/Braindead is the reigning king, in my opinion), Zombieland sweeps past Simon Pegg and Nick Frost with seeming ease.  I’ve rarely seen a movie so gleefully enjoy what should, by all rights, be a terrifying and macabre situation, to the point where I might not mind joining this crew for a little end of the world road trip as well.

Oh, and Rule #12: If you don’t see this movie, I will bite you.  Seriously.  And then you’ll become a mutant and have to file a completely different set of tax forms in April.  Trust me, it’s a pain, so go see Zombieland pronto and avoid the (Talla)hassle.

There's one thing that zombies hate more than shotguns: dueling banjos.
There’s one thing that zombies hate more than shotguns: dueling banjos.


  • The Zombie Kill of the Week.  By a nun!
  • All the major characters are named after American cities: Tallahassee (Florida), Wichita (Kansas), Little Rock (Arkansas), and Columbus (Ohio).
  • Jesse Eisenberg’s squeamish character Columbus has a phobia about clowns. His real life mother worked as a party clown.
  • Zombieland was originally pitched as a TV series.  After being turned down, the writers refashioned it into a screenplay (the amusement park scene was going to be the second TV episode).

Columbus’ Rules:

  • 1. Cardio
  • 2. Double tap
  • 3. Beware of bathrooms
  • 4. Seatbelts
  • 6. Cast iron skillet
  • 7. Travel light
  • 12. Bounty
  • 15. Bowling ball
  • 17. Don’t be a hero
  • 18. Limber up
  • 22. When in doubt know your way out
  • 29. The buddy system
  • 31. Check the back seat
  • 32. Enjoy the little things
  • 33. Swiss Army Knife

Groovy Quotes

Columbus: Now you’re going to find out who you’re should call.  The Ghostbusters.

Tallahassee: I haven’t cried like that since Titanic!

Tallahassee: Time to nut up or shut up!

Wichita: Do you have any regrets?
Bill Murray: Maybe Garfield.

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  1. I was already pretty interested in this movie. Thanks to this review it is cemented in my brain as something that I have to watch NOW. Awesome review (and taste in movies. 😉 )

  2. Saw this today, thought it was great. I was a little disappointed by the celebrity cameo, though; it just kinda came and went.

  3. Love this movie (and the pilot for the tv series on Amazon) but there were two problems. (1) there is a long zombie-free stretch in the middle, pretty much from when they meet the girls until Hollywood all you get is a kill of the week zombie-wise (2) going to a theme park filled with zombie is just stupid. It made for a great scene but it was stupid.

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