Volume Eight, Issue Forty-Two!
“Movie Review: Zombieland: Double Tap”
Sequels are hard. Comedy sequels are harder. But Horror Comedy sequels? They’re virtually non-existent, and ones that come ten years after the original are almost always doomed for failure. Which makes Zombieland: Double Tap one of the bigger surprises of the year for me. From assembling the original cast and crew to not falling into the trap of rehashing the jokes from the original, there’s plenty to find enjoyable in the return trip to Zombieland, even if the end result isn’t as fresh as the original.
Picking up 10 years after the first film, Zombieland: Double Tap finds Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) fully adapted to life surrounded by zombies. Taking up residence in the White House, the makeshift family is starting to feel some growing pains, from Columbus and Wichita feeling the strains of a long-term relationship to Little Rock feeling tired of being looked at like a little kid. It all leads to Little Rock and Wichita skipping out on the group, until Little Rock leaves Wichita to hang out with a young hippie (Avan Jogia), causing the crew to come back together to find her before she becomes zombie food.
That’s the main plot of the film, and it’s pretty simple. So simple in fact, that screenwriters Rhett Reese and Dave Callahan add a few more subplots throughout the film, conveniently almost every twenty minutes. And when you look at the long road to get to Double Tap, the fact that Amazon commissioned a series a few years ago, only to cancel it after the pilot was aired, it brings the realization that this film is probably the three best (or completed) scripts for that show reworked into a feature length film. It makes for a pretty strange narrative, since there’s essentially one main plot and about three different subplots that are started and resolved throughout the movie.
That may seem like a dig against Double Tap, but surprisingly, it’s not. Double Tap gets by on the charm of the cast, with Harrelson, Eisenberg, Breslin, and especially Stone falling back into their characters with ease. With the exception of the fact that they all look older, you’d never notice that it’s been ten years since the original Zombieland. The four actors have a very easy chemistry together, and seeing them all bouncing off one another makes up for the film’s shortcomings in the narrative department.
Of course, you can’t just rely on the core four for the sequel, and that’s another area where Double Tap surprises. Zoey Deutch, of Vampire Academy fame/infamy, absolutely steals the movie as Madison, the uber ditzy blonde who hooks up with a heartbroken Columbus after he’s dumped by Wichita. This is a star-making role for Deutch, who brings an amazing sense of comic timing to the film, and makes Double Tap worth a second viewing just to catch all the weird jokes and asides that she makes in the film. There’s fun cameos from Thomas Middleditch and Luke Wilson that have already been spoiled in the trailers, but there’s also a pretty great cameo in the mid credits that’s a fantastic play on one of the best moments of the original Zombieland.
While not as solid as the first, Double Tap could have been a whole lot worse, and I give credit to director Reuben Fletcher for not falling back on the same jokes and sequences as the original film. While it remains to be seen if we’ll get another adventure with Tallahassee and the rest of the crew, I’ll definitely spend more time with them if given the chance.