Double the tap, more or less the same with everything else.
When it was first released in 2009, Zombieland was a surprise hit with audiences and critics, and it’s impossible not to see why. It was bombastic, hilarious, and a fresh piece of zombie-themed entertainment that stood out amongst the likes of Shaun of the Dead and The Walking Dead. Now, exactly ten years since that films release, audiences are treated to a second outing with our lovably anarchistic characters. Question is, was it worth the wait?
It has been ten years since the zombie apocalypse, and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have continued to trek across the United States hunting down zombies before eventually settling in the White House. When Little Rock decides that she wants more than this, she takes off with a non-violent guitarist for a place called Babylon, prompting everyone else to band together and trek to bring her back, all while facing off against zombies that are twice as fast and twice as deadly.
Almost every element from the first Zombieland is back, including all four leads, the director, the writer, the gore, and Columbus’s rules. There is, however, one elements that didn’t manage to make it to the sequel, and that was the freshness. While there is nothing particularly bad about this film, per se, it does not have the same surprising impact that the first film had, and feels more like a retread than a continuation. Admittedly, the film does have a strong start with the Columbia logo defending herself from zombies before getting back into position. Unfortunately, the film does not reach that level of creativity throughout the rest of the runtime, and instead displays callbacks and uninteresting storytelling.
While it is nice that all four leads are back, their characters appear not to have developed over time, which is a problem that plagues comedy sequels. It almost feels like the filmmakers are more concerned with gaining quick and cheap laughs with cute callbacks than with exploring new territory and developing the characters. Wouldn’t the latter make them more interesting, and help the film feel more fresh and vibrant?
One of the charms of Zombieland is how the characters, as well as the filmmakers, took risks and took advantage if its bizarre premise. Since the setting and characters have been introduced before in the first film, the filmmakers seemed to have been struggling with finding things for them to do here. One of the more frustrating aspects of the film is Columbus and Wichita’s on-again off-again romance. It would not be much of a problem if their banter was edgy and humorous, but it feel more tired than anything, and unfortunately takes a good amount of screen time. Is this Zombieland, or Mad About You?
The film feels most vibrant and alive when it introduces new characters, one of them being Madison, played by Zoey Deutch, an air-headed blonde who spent most of the zombie apocalypse hiding in a freezer. Her character, unfortunately, is better in smaller doses, because despite her getting a few funny moments, her dumb blonde running gag wears thin after a while. The best new addition to the cast, though, is Nevada, played by Rosario Dawson, who has yet to give a bad performance in anything, and her scenes with Harrelson are fun to watch.
Although the film feels routine for the most part, where the fun really gets cooking is when the gang visit Graceland. While there, Harrelson and Eisenberg’s characters meet their doppelgängers, played by Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch, respectively. Unlike in many modern-day comedies, the banter between these characters never gets old, especially when . In this sequence is a fight between them and the advanced zombies, and it is shot in one long unbroken take. One can’t help but admire the craftsmanship that what into making this scene, and it genuinely feels like the most passionate part of the film.
Despite having no true reason to exist, Zombieland Double Tap is an enjoyable enough time at the movies. There are a least a few laughs to keep audiences entertained, but the film is more than likely not going to be remembered the next day. Perhaps if this sequel came out about five or eight years ago, this film might have had more punch, instead of feeling mostly tired and dated. For what it is, though, this film is a slightly above-average sequel with decent laughs and gore that will distract people from the world’s real life problems for about two hours before throwing them back out. If that is what you are looking for, then nut up or shut up!
On one final note, stay to the end of the film because there is a mid-credits and post-credits scene, and they are definitely worth the wait!