Published Oct 17, 2019The original Zombieland was basically a Judd Apatow rom-com set in a zombie apocalypse, complete with a nerdy underdog protagonist and an adorkably sarcastic sense of humour. It stood out from other zombie movies, not because of its particularly novel approach to undead brain-eaters, but thanks to the human chemistry between its gang of survivors.
Zombieland: Double Tap brings back that same cast 10 years later, but without that sense of sweetness. When we pick up with the old gang, they're living in the White House, where Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Wichita (Emma Stone) are in a tense but steady relationship, and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) is acting as a curmudgeonly father figure for the angsty Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).
Their pleasant domestic bubble is interrupted when Wichita and Little Rock ditch the fellas and embark on a dangerous road trip, mostly because Little Rock wants to find a boyfriend, and this results in an inevitable rescue mission. It's a flimsy premise that serves no particular function, other than to throw some interpersonal drama between the protagonists and give them an excuse to kill lots of zombies.
If that plot seems a little underdeveloped, that's nothing compared to the new characters our heroes meet along the way: Madison (Zoey Deutch) is caricature of a dumb blonde with vocal fry, Berkeley is a pot-smoking hippie who says "namaste," and Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch) are doppelgängers for Tallahassee and Columbus. Of the newbies, only Reno (Rosario Dawson) is a remotely believable character, although her personality doesn't really extend beyond being an Elvis fan.
The film's sense of humour, meanwhile, blurs the line between callbacks and simply repeating all the same jokes again. There's an endless string of references to Columbus's rules for survival, his former neighbour in apartment 406, "nut up or shut up," Bill Murray, etc., etc., etc. It's clear that returning director Ruben Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are coasting off the success of the first film.
It's a lesser rehash of Zombieland, but there's still enough life left in the corpse for a handful of decent gags, plus lots and lots of over-the-top gore. It's easy to be sadistic when the bad guys are undead, and Double Tap doesn't disappoint with its wacky zombie deaths. This is a perfectly entertaining way to spend slightly less than 90 minutes, even if it's as mindless as a flesh-eating automaton.