Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee
I can’t say I care much for zombies — that is, film zombies; I’ve never met a real one — but the horror-comedy Zombieland is quite fun and does feature such a delicious cameo from Bill Murray it almost makes up for all the overlong scenes in which the zombies groan and stagger and spew black bile and haemorrhage blood and generally do what zombies do. I don’t think I even get zombies. OK, they’re the living dead, but what do they have against the living living? What have the living living ever done to them? Why do they always want to barricade them in a single room? Why do they want to eat human flesh? Why can’t they schlep round Tesco, bring all the stuff home, carry it in from the car, put it all away, and then cook something up, like everyone else? What makes them so special? This is why I don’t care for zombies. They act like the normal rules don’t apply.
Anyway, this is set in a post-apocalyptic America where the zombies have already taken over the earth due to some viral-based infection and only a handful of humans remain, as is always the way. Our main guy is Columbus, a nerdy, awkward, phobic loner as played endearingly by Jesse Eisenberg. Columbus — all the characters are named after their home towns, by the way — is going it alone until, on one of those deserted highways festooned with abandoned cars, he runs into Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a gun-toting, badass tough guy who, it turns out, has a sentimental side, as is always the way, too. In turn, these two join forces with two sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) and together they all head towards a Californian theme park where the zombies may bite their hearts out but, heck, at least you don’t have to queue for the rides (a fair trade-off, I’d have thought).
Directed by Ruben Fleischer, this is more comedy than horror and, although there is much blood-splattering, bile-spewing and gore, it is never properly scary. Mostly, it is just very silly, but because the film knows it is silly, it’s all rather infectious and not the big, cliché-pumped bore it might otherwise have been. I liked it when Breslin tries to explain to Harrelson who Hannah Montana is, for example. I liked it when Columbus moves in for his first kiss. But I liked it most when they all turn up at Bill Murray’s Hollywood mansion. Here, Murray — who only has to be to be funny — parodies himself blissfully. Any regrets? he’s asked as he lies dying. ‘Maybe Garfield?’ he whispers in reply.
This is an easy, undemanding romp which won’t repay any close attention — who is keeping the electricity going? Why don’t our survivors seem in the least worried by their situation? — but is fun all the same. Does it bring anything new to the party? No, not really, and it’s not like it’s the first zom-rom-com, as that was Shaun of the Dead. Perhaps, now, it’s even time to up the stakes, introduce a very big monkey into the genre, and make the first kong-zom-rom-com. I’d buy a ticket for that. Actually, I wouldn’t but once you make a bad joke you should stick around for at least a little while to support it.
And now for something completely, utterly and wholly different: Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee. Directed by Shane Meadows in just five days on an almost zero budget (£30,000) as part of his Five-Day Features Project it never feels properly cinematic; always feels as if it were made for BBC3, so it may all depend on how much you want to see BBC3 at the cinema. This is an improvised comedy about an embittered roadie (Le Donk, played by Paddy Considine) and his relationship with his protégé, the Nottingham rapper Scor-zay-zee, who is a real guy, by all accounts, and who is probably glad he didn’t call himself Poe-Lanz-Kee, which would have been unfortunate. The action, such as it is, centres on whether Le Donk can secure Scorz — whom he refers to as ‘like the honey monster...but with a lobotomy’ — a support slot at an Arctic Monkeys’ gig. Although the mock/rockumentary is as tired a conceit as the zom-rom-com, this is also done with such heart it doesn’t matter too much, plus Considine is wonderful as a riffing blusterer veering from no self-awareness whatsoever to almost painful moments of self-examination. This is not a substantial film, although, being Shane Meadows, it may, in some ways, be more substantial than those that are. But it’s just not cinema, which, at some level, has to be about ambition and scope and the long-take or it is just TV (isn’t it?) Anyhow, go see one, go see the other, go see both, go see neither. My job is done.