You're probably looking at the title of this article and are beginning to wonder whether or not I have gone completely mad. Is he saying that an R rated zombie comedy filled with cursing, gore, and comedic violence is appropriate for families to watch? That's not what I'm saying at all. The film "Zombieland" is not a film for families, but it is a great film about families and with a sequel on its way now is a better time than ever to go into why that is.
The film "Zombieland" is a 2009 comedy that parodies the zombie genre. The film features only four human characters (five if you count a certain cameo appearance that I won't spoil here). These four characters are very different people, but share one thing in common, whether it was before, during, or after the zombie outbreak they all came from broken homes.
The character Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) was a lonely shut in before the zombie outbreak who admits that he was never that close with his parents. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) is gleefully violent man child who enjoys killing zombies due to a personal tragedy involving a member of his family during the initial outbreak. Wichita (Emma Stone) and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) were con artists swindling money from state to state without any known parents or guardians before the zombie outbreak.
These four eventually cross paths while wondering across the abandoned, zombie infested country. At first they don't like each other, but they learn to tolerate each other in order to better survive (strength in numbers). However, as they spend more time together they get to enjoy each other's company a lot more, especially Columbus and Wichita, which causes Wichita and Little Rock to leave the group because they fear attachment, like anyone trying to survive a zombie apocalypse would.
But when Wichita and Little Rock run into trouble at a zombie infested theme park called Pacific Playland, Columbus and Tallahassee come to rescue them. The film shows how caring for the people you love during emotionally stressful times (such as a zombie apocalypse) actually gives you a better chance of survival, which is a very refreshing take on zombie films, were you are forced to distance yourself from people emotionally to avoid the seemingly inevitable hardship of having to lose them. Even though remaining distant could help you survive, it takes away the very things that make us human (like emotions and love). If you remove those and are just surviving day by day as an emotionless husk are you really any better than a zombie.
"Zombieland" is a film about four different people finding a surrogate family in each other. Columbus and Wichita often act as the mature parents to literal child Little Rock and emotional child Tallahassee. They argue and fight often like a real dysfunctional family would, but they're still a family who watch out for each other. That's a pretty positive and wholesome message for a film that involves flesh eating zombies.