Zombieland: Double Tap
Updated: Feb 9, 2020
In 2009, the zombie comedy Zombieland was a huge hit. Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, it was a cross between road trip, buddy comedy and horror. Somehow, all of those aspects clicked. It was very funny, both in terms of dialogue and how it used its zombies. Even in a world filled with the undead, it was the relationships between the four human characters that made it stand out. Harrelson as the abrasive, Twinkie-obsessed, Tallahassee, Eisenberg as the neurotic, lonely, Columbus, Stone as the guarded Wichita and Breslin as her little sister, Little Rock. They were three-dimensional people and the zombies were just obstacles standing in the way of their individual happiness. It also featured an amazing cameo from Bill Murray. A sequel is not unwelcome though, after the decade long wait, it feels strangely old-fashioned. Zombieland: Double Tap is an unnecessary second chapter in their story, however it certainly contains enough inspired moments that fans should not walk away too disappointed. The biggest problem with it is it is not nearly as funny as its predecessor. Then again, the joke is always funnier the first time you hear it.
This time around, the gang has now been together for ten years and has become something of an unconventional family. Then, Little Rock, tired of being treated like a child, runs away, causing the other three to go look for her. In addition to a lot of zombie killing, Double Tap also includes many new faces. This gives the characters fresh people to play off of, but does not add any particularly interesting new dynamics.
It takes place in a world where the crazy last ten years as we experienced them never happened because the world effectively ended at the start of the zombie outbreak. Since the government no longer exists, politics no longer exist (this despite a trip to the White House). Neither does pop culture. While there are a couple of jokes aimed at our reality, it is nice to see a movie where the characters cannot reference things because they have never heard of them. That is what makes Double Tap feel oddly like a throwback. All it wants to do is bring its characters back, have them struggle some more with their insecurities and watch them kill zombies. Unfortunately (if predictably), the sense of discovery is gone, as are the smaller moments of character development.
There are actually not quite as many callbacks to previous gags as I anticipated. The movie is refreshingly restrained in that department (still, it is difficult for me to imagine viewers new to the franchise getting as much out of it). Regardless, too many of the new ones feel somewhat recycled. That is what the new characters are for, to toss extra personalities into the mix, as well as a zombie ranking system, in an effort to make them a little more convincing as a threat. Some of this works, but adding elements to this world dilutes it, instead of making it richer. Nonetheless, I will still mildly recommend it to those excited by the thought of returning to Zombieland.
Though I did not laugh as hard or as much, I am glad I saw Double Tap. It is just not as fun as the first, which is a major issue for a sequel that wants to give its audience the same type of stuff they already enjoyed, on a larger scale. It is a decent enough 94 minutes (without the end credits), even if it is one of those sequels that clearly only got made so a popular movie can have a sequel. It does not make me eager for a Zombieland 3, but I would see it anyway in the hope it will be at least as good as this, and maybe, if we are especially lucky, recapture the unexpected magic of the original.
3 out of 5
Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus
Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee
Emma Stone as Wichita
Abigail Breslin as Little Rock
Zoey Deutch as Madison
Avan Jogia as Berkeley
Rosario Dawson as Nevada
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Screenplay by Dave Callaham, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick