In Adventureland Eisenberg looks nattier and can display as James Brennan (Greg Mottola's stand-in) his full dramatic range (oscillating from comedic to dramatic timing) and heartthrob potential, blessed at Kristen Stewart's (Em Lewin) side: "Wait, Em. I think I maybe see you a little differently than you see yourself."
In Zombieland (2009) directed by Ruben Fleischer, he stars as the distressed Columbus, a WoW video game player who dreams of finding a girl to fall in love with, and to take her to meet his remote family. The outside landscape is draughty, full of undead zombies who chase the only surviving humans in the USA to kill and infect them. So the first chance for him will happen with an infected beauty (Amber Heard playing a mysterious blonde anonymized as #406) whose intentions are not precisely too amorous. Columbus: "You see? You just can't trust anyone. The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me."
Columbus joins the out of whack zombie hunter Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). This is a wild road trip in search of an escape from a dreadful destiny, hoarding vintage guns and durable goods, but most importantly, in a desperate search for a Twinkie (for Tallahassee) or one's own trust (for Columbus). Both goofballs will meet two cute bad-ass sisters, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).
The movie starts with a funny exordium of Columbus explaining to the viewer his methodic catalogue of rules to survive in Zombieland, and it ends with his apogee at Pacific Playland. On the surface Zombieland is a full blast horror comedy but there is a surreptitious tongue-in-cheek conclusion, a sideswipe at America's alienating culture among plenty of wisecracking and goo.
Eisenberg attended the Sundance Film Festival to promote one of his latest films, Holy Rollers (2010), directed by Kevin Asch, which has just been purchased by First Independent Pictures acquiring U.S. distribution rights. Eisenberg plays a Hasidic Jew named Sam Gold who, influenced by Yosef (Justin Bartha), turns into a drug mule and, developing an interest in one of his drug boss's girlfriend Rachel (Ari Graynor), lives a cultural clash against his religious precepts. The plot is inspired by actual events about Orthodox Jews recruited to illegally bring ecstasy into New York City from Amsterdam in the late '90s.
Eisenberg's laugh out loud moments may not be as frequent as in Cera's case, but the main discordance between them is that Michael Cera seems to fall into a cataplexic state when he's infatuated with an attractive chick and he's always passive towards the girls he's after, even in Youth in Revolt, where a naughty alter ego Francois Dillinger appears, his conquest weapons relied on deadpan courtship. Cera himself confesses in the Movieline interview:
Q: Do you have an inner Francois?
Cera: Not really. No.
As Superbad's and Adventureland's director Mottola expresses, "Jesse, I think, is a little more sexualized than Michael."