Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Letter of the Week - '"Zombiebland"

Phil writes in with an amusing rant about a recent horror hit...

Okay, so usually I forget all about screenwriting rules whenever I watch a movie.
Not so with Zombieland.
What's up with that movies second act and its obvious lack of conflict?
It was basically just the protagonist and his companions goofing around and getting to know each other.
And that scene where Bill Murray got shot? Come on! Talk about a dumb practical joke. Obviously there was a huge risk that the protagonist would've shot him.
It wasn't a practical joke gone wrong -- it was suicide! That scene violated one of my personal rules: Never give the audience a reason to roll their eyes and say, "Yeah, right!"
And did we really need an entire slow-mo montage depicting the characters tearing that curio shop to pieces?
I mean, yeah, it's nice to see characters relax and blow off some steam, but that usually follows after a couple scenes of conflict, where the characters deserve a break, What ordeal did these particular characters go through that they feel entitled to or in need of demolishing a poor curio shop? Sure, they live in Zombieland, but they all seem accustomed to that life, like another day at the office or something. It was also one of those scenes where you cringe and think: Ouch, what a waste of the studio's money. Do these people really need to destroy all that stuff? :)
And the third act: The theme park. The two girls stranded on the ride. Descending toward the mob of zombies below. Their only apparent chance of survival being to shoot that box thing and override the system, thereby stalling the rides descent.
The older sister was the sharpshooter, and yet, when her ammo runs out, she just helplessly looks on while her little sister fumbles with her own gun, trying to shoot the aforesaid box thing. Why the hell didn't the older sister just say, "Hey! Gimme that damn gun, little sister! Lemme do it!"
Okay, I'm done ranting for now. Sometimes I just wonder why or how some things get overlooked in a script. Especially when there are so many people involved in the project. 
Oh well.  
Happy new year, Jim!
Very interesting points here. I actually liked this film, but these points are all pretty valid. I'd say this is a combination of a cool premise and a great scenery-chewing performance by the Woodman which made this one hum.  Harrelson's attitude and the movie's sense of fun made me overlook those flaws which in a lesser movie could have been fatal. 

By the way, the script was on the Black List (the annual compilation list of industry favorite scripts) in 2007, along with Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler and I Wanna F_____ Your Sister (seriously.)

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