Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 05 October 2009
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Undead, cannibalistic hordes have taken over the world, or at least the corpulent U.S.A., due to a virus that started with a tainted hamburger. Now human beings, alone or in small groups, must struggle to survive as if living in a war zone.
Four of them, identified by city, are nerdy University of Texas student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), wild, gun-toting Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and a conniving set of survivalist sisters, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).
The live-flesh foursome must keep from being zombie chow by staying on the road (SUV procurement is easy), staying armed (military weapons work best) and finding food (any supermarket will do, but there could be blood-crazed ghouls among the groceries).
Each of the four has their own methodology for coping with the stresses of daily life. Columbus actually has rules, among them good cardio (to outrun the creatures), always check the backseat, bathrooms are dangerous, and the “double tap” – kill everything twice, preferably targeting the head, to make sure it doesn’t reanimate.
Tallahassee makes the best of his predicament by enjoying a good zombie slaughter. Fast on the draw and quick with a joke, he plows through zombie crowds like a steam roller. His life’s objective has narrowed down to finding a Twinkie somewhere, anywhere.
Sisters Wichita and Little Rock are headed to a California amusement park, rumored to be a zombie-free zone. They’ll lie, steal and double-cross anyone who gets in their way. Columbus and Tallahassee find this out the hard way. The two teams alternately split up and regroup several times, squatting at a California estate of a film star who makes a surprising cameo.
Columbus and Wichita ignite a spark of romance, enough to make the two men follow the sisters (who have split from them yet again) to the amusement park in time to assist them with an unexpected infestation of a putrid populace that has breached the gate. Bright lights will do that, you know, but the girls haven’t traveled all this way to NOT take advantage of the rides. Hey, ya gotta have priorities, even if it means you get stranded on a metal tower and run out of ammunition. And zombies can climb.
Jesse Eisenberg could be interchangeable with Michael Cera in this role. You know the type: the decent schlub who never gets the girl but is really a nice guy. Eisenberg pulls it off effortlessly, but it’s not that much of a stretch.
Woody Harrelson has fun with Tallahassee’s practical approach to modern life, relishing the bloodshed and mayhem, especially his contribution to it. Having ice-blue eyes and a gappy smile helps with the off-beat portrayal.
Emma Stone is merely adequate in her role, which could have been played by a score of young actresses. She’s not bad, just not really memorable among the carnage. Abigail Breslin portrays her little con artist with an unexpected dexterity that promises to widen her repertoire of role choices in future projects.
Director Ruben Fleischer’s feature debut is a smartass gore fest which tempers the incessant violence with humor. At a little over 80 minutes the film is a rapid road trip through a post-apocalyptic existence that requires machine guns and heavy artillery as life insurance. Production value is high; sets and props are elaborate. The squib expense alone must have been enormous.
There is no real plot other than survival, and if you’re looking for closure you won’t find it here. Instead you’ll discover the lawlessness that trumps social commandments in a world where the top command is “Eat or be eaten.” And by all means, get out of the way if a Twinkie is involved.