Year 7, Day 293 - 10/20/15 - Movie #2,178
BEFORE: Another year, another birthday, and I know it's just an illusion, because I'm not suddenly 365 days older than I was yesterday, it's a gradual process. But I'm reminded of a day about 7 years ago when I had to leave my 40th birthday party before it even began, after accidentally smashing my head into a lightbulb (or vice versa, depending on how you look at it) and getting driven to the E.R. to get myself stitched up. A head wound can make you reconsider what's important in life, and in my case, it made me realize that I wasn't watching enough movies. Oh, and someone gave me a copy of a book called "40 Things to Do When You Turn 40", and I didn't particularly care to go scuba-diving, or sky-diving, or waterskiing or whatever, so I figured I'd start a movie blog instead. Now I just need to figure out a way to stop doing this.
Linking from "28 Weeks Later", Jeremy Renner was also in "North Country" with Woody Harrelson (last seen in "EdTV"). Alternately, Catherine McCormack was in "Magic in the Moonlight" with Emma Stone.
THE PLOT: A shy student trying to reach his family in Ohio, a gun-toting tough guy trying to find the last Twinkie, and a pair of sisters trying to get to an amusement park join forces to travel across a zombie-filled America.
AFTER: I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would, there were funny bits but it wasn't really an outrageous comedy, it was more like slice-of-life comedy, but in a world where the zombies have mostly taken over. You have to imagine that among the living, non-zombiefied people, life would be rough, but also quite ridiculous in some ways.
Plus, this film perfectly illustrates the point I was trying to make about writing a screenplay according to a set of rules. While "28 Weeks Later" essentially threw the rule-book out the window where zombies are concerned - heck, where narrative structure is concerned - this film is nothing but rules. Zombies have to act a certain way, people fighting zombies have to act a certain way to kill them, and life in general is reduced to a list of practical rules that help people stay alive. The narrator and main character is definitely on the OCD side, writing down the tactics that work and numbering and reciting the tips that help keep him alive - like "#7: travel light" and "#31: always check the back seat before getting into a car".
He also practices a policy of traveling alone, but really that's because he believes that he may be the last human not turned into a flesh-eating monster. But he meets a man with a truck and a weapons arsenal, who offers him a ride back East. (Why he hasn't become proficient at car theft himself, I'm not sure...) And together they take down several zombie nests before encountering a pair of sisters who also know a few tricks about staying alive. After some initial differences are ironed out, they form a sort of de facto family.
But, after the decline of civilization, what is there to do, besides driving around, destroying property and defending themselves from zombies? Have fun while waiting for the zombies to starve, I guess. Because they're not inclined to eat groceries at the market, so you have to figure eventually they're going to run out of live humans to snack on. So they head for the mansions of Beverly Hills, and a nearby amusement park. Nothing could possibly go wrong in an old, abandoned theme park, right?
I have to call a NITPICK POINT on the presence of fresh food and electricity everywhere our heroes go. If this were truly two months after the zombie plague broke out and most humans died, there wouldn't be much edible produce left in grocery stores (canned food and cookies, sure, but not fresh fruit) and there probably wouldn't be electric power without people to maintain the power stations & hydro-electric dams.
Also starring Jesse Eisenberg (last heard in "Rio 2"), Emma Stone (last seen in "Magic in the Moonlight"), Abigail Breslin (last seen in "August: Osage County"), Bill Murray (last seen in "The Monuments Men"), Amber Heard (last seen in "Drive Angry").
RATING: 6 out of 10 Hostess Sno Balls