Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: -4

Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin. Dark comedy/Zombies. Written by Paul Wermick, Rhett Reese. Directed by Ruben Fleischer.

“...A zombie has no will of his own. You see them sometimes walking around blindly, with dead eyes, following orders, not knowing what they do, not caring.”
“You mean like Democrats?” - Richard Carlson & Bob Hope in THE GHOST BREAKERS.

FILM SYNOPSIS: At the opening of this dark comedy/thriller, America is no longer the land of the free and the brave, but of the dead. Is it an allegory concerning the encroachment of the present administration’s socialistic demands? Oh, no, Hollywood would never criticize a Democratic President. So, what we get is a straightforward, all-out comedy about four survivors of a virus that caused everybody else to turn into zombies. It’s two girls, one nerd and Woody Harrelson vs. gangs of marauding flesh-eaters. Along the way, our intrepid heroes bash in, beat up and shoot down dozens of the walking dead while slowly growing together as a family.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I have to admit, this is the surprise comedy of the year. I did laugh – a lot. The writing is fun, smart, and at times, sweet-natured (we’ll get to the offensive stuff in a minute). Because we see all of America decimated, words such as allegory and symbolism briefly popped into my head. They didn’t stay long as I believe those involved were not attempting real social commentary. The goal was merely to entertain the folks.

Why is it rated R? Well, there’s a whole lot of graphic zombie bashing. And by bashing, I don’t mean, “Your Zombie wears army boots.” No, our protagonists just bash the growling people-eaters with ball bats and blast away with guns galore. And even though we see lots of gooey black stuff drooling from the mouths of these stiff-walking foul things of the night, and they are dispatched with all the adroitness of a 13-year-old Nintendo champ, the imagery is not all that disturbing. It’s a video game in structure. Basically, the more zombies you whack, the more points you score. (Even St. Peter wouldn’t mind a little zombie slaying. I think.)

As our little group draws closer, some tender moments are shared, giving the narrative substance. It’s action-fueled, yet often very funny. What’s more, it has a surprise guest star. I know you’re going to read who it is somewhere. But not here. Suffice it to say, he’s the wittiest actor still living. (He utters the funniest response ever to the query, “Do you have any regrets?”).

Alas, I have a two-part dilemma. There is another reason for the film’s rating, besides all that zombie obliteration. The language is raw. Uh-oh, here goes Boatwright again, telling us how bad it is to misuse God’s name and that swear words aren’t creative. Hey, you’re catching on, ‘cause, here it comes.

It’s a comedy about zombies taking over the world. Nothing can be taken seriously. And yet, both God, Creator of the universe, and Jesus, the Savior of all who ask, have their names abused by a writer and several actors.

I’ve profaned God’s name more than once in my life. But each time, I asked Him to forgive me and have certainly attempted not to make those utterances a part of my daily dialogue. (I mention my misdeed in order to not appear sanctimonious.) When you use these disobediences to the 3rd Commandment in a film, however, they’re there to be heard for as long as people will be watching movies. And I have yet to see one of these offenders come on Jay’s or Dave’s shows in order to offer up penance for their profanity.

Thirty or more times, the f-word or its alternative, the s-word, are used to beef up a comic line. Had one of those words been used one time at one pivotal moment, it could be argued that it is a use of language. But thirty times? And how many movies have relied on the harshness of the f-word or the crudeness of the s-word to help form a simple declarative sentence? Nearly all of them of late. It’s zombie language, used by actors who blindly, with dead eyes, follow orders of the writer, not knowing what they do, not caring.

The second part of my dilemma has to do with my search for an appropriate DVD Alternative. It’s not easy finding a comic movie about people attempting to avoid being eaten by ghouls. I had to go all the way back to Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein in order to find a comic horror movie that excluded exploitation and crudity. Oh, I’ll bet teenagers are biting at the bit to see a 50-year-old, black & white movie starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

So, if I may, allow me to leave the spook-spoof genre and settle on an amusing film with life lessons: Groundhog Day. In it, Bill Murray learns how to treat others after being caught in a surreal world where he wakes up each morning to re-live the same day. Besides being a funny film, it is also one that’s funny without resorting to the use of the f-word – proving that it can be done.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Sony Pictures

Crude Language: A few crude and suggestive sexual comments.
Obscene Language: Around 30 obscenities, mostly the f- and s-words; women are called by the b-words.
Profanity: Around six or so profane uses of God’s name or Christ’s.
Violence: Videogame-like blastings of zombies, more amusing than gory (come on, they’re zombies). Blood: Ghoulish black ooze drools from the mouths of these carnivorous creatures.
Sexual Intercourse: A couple of sexual conversations, one somewhat graphic.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Wine-drinking in one scene by two adults; the adults smoke pot in one scene.
Other: None
Running Time: 95 minutes
Intended Audience: Lovers of the genre

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