MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Horror-Comedy/ Stars: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Avan Jogia, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch, Bill Murray/ Runtime: 99 minutes
When an individual decides to look back with the advantage of hindsight it isn’t that difficult in the slightest to understand just how the first Zombieland did so well. Indeed the concept of a road trip during a zombie apocalypse is a not complicated in any way idea from a narrative perspective to pull off. Plus the film also showcases a quite terrific cast of players to be our guides through this world gone mad, and they are also portrayed by a quartet of wonderful and extremely skilled actors: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin. Not to mention, but this concept also finds itself injected with a dosage of both fantastic ingenuity and savvy. Thus when one combines all of these elements the end result is a hilarious and enjoyable cinematic experience that also contributes both some genuine unexpected moments as well as a handful of actually terrifying moments.
With all of that having been established, I think it is safe to say that the big puzzler when it came to Zombieland: Double Tap in the time period before the film came out was whether or not lightning could strike twice. Indeed the movie contained all of the original elements from director to screenwriters and all the way to the original quartet all coming back for more undead killing mayhem. Yet as we all are aware that fact alone is never a sure sign that a sequel will ever be a success like its predecessor especially when the first film was released over a decade ago. Thankfully this benchmark was one that the movie was able to achieve. Indeed this is because, truth be told, it is just a pure joy to reunite with this group of zombie killers. Plus with the narrative bringing in some new ingredients, both living and undead in equal measure, audiences are once again ready for one enjoyable ride through a land of the living dead unlike any other….
The plot is as follows: Zombieland: Double Tap picks up with its main characters 10 years after the rise of the flesh-eating undead, and they have basically settled into something resembling domesticity at the White House….if such a thing exists in a world overrun by the undead. Suffice it to say that even though they have settled down somewhat, their relationships with each other haven’t really changed a lot if at all. Indeed as we see that the apprehensive and fixated on playing by the rules Columbus is still together with Wichita with the added caveat being that even though he is ready to settle down with her, she is still quite horrified at the idea of being that close with another person in this world. At the same time we also see that Tallahassee is still the same shoot-first, ask-questions-never redneck though he has come to really see Little Rock as a surrogate daughter of sorts even though this is something that the young woman has been rebelling against due to quickly approaching the age where one typically leaves home Thus due to frustrations starting to mount a wee bit in the quartet, Wichita and Little Rock decide to take off and go their own way. However a few days later, Wichita returns seeking the boys’ help. It seems the plan went awry and Little Rock abandoned her as well and took off with a guitar-playing pacifist for a commune. Seeing this now as a rescue mission, the dynamic trio once again hits the open road, with several new friends in tow, so that they can try to locate Little Rock and try to persuade her in order to come home with them and be a part once again of the makeshift family that they have managed to create….
Now the single biggest advantage that this movie has going for it is the plain and simple aspect that the main quartet of characters still feel distinctly familiar thus giving you the impression that you are catching up on some dear friends you haven’t seen in a while. Indeed quite a bit has happened for the main quartet in the last decade, as the quartet combined has managed to acquire 6 Oscar nods and one actual win. Yet even with that occurring their reprisal of these certain characters and their distinct personalities all feel completely natural. Indeed as much as their characters would hate to admit it, this quartet has grown up quite a bit and are so comfortable around one another that while this may give off vibes that this is all new to us, this quartet nevertheless is the same group we were first introduced to back in ’09.
I also feel that another terrific element that helps really make this distinct area in the film work as well as it does is the work done by the new characters that this film brings into the fold. Indeed even though you might be inclined to believe that a proverbial “dumb blonde” archetype in a movie from the year 2019 would be too well of an established cliché to do anything new with, I can honestly tell you that you would be quite mistaken. Indeed in her turn as the ditzy Madison, Zoey Deutch manages to prove herself to be quite a fantastic addition to the cast as she not only has a wonderful comedic style, but her timing is fantastic as well thus it’s no wonder that moments with her are some of the funniest in the film. Also even though they aren’t given the biggest roles in the film, I also feel that the same most definitely can be said about Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, and Thomas Middleditch in this. This is because, despite being clearly created to be a counterpart for Tallahassee, right down to loving Elvis and kickin’ zombie butt, Dawson still manages to make her character of Nevada feel like a true three dimensional character. As for Wilson and Middleditch they manage to prove to be a fantastic mirroring for the main dynamic duo of Eisenberg and Harrelson albeit with a few key differences to really help distinguish them.
This is also a follow-up which is even blessed with the ability to get creative with how it chooses to build the world that it takes place in by taking complete and total advantage of the fact that this is a chance to look back in on a world ravaged by the undead a decade after it started. Indeed not only is there an intriguing concept done in the form of showing that zero of the major things that have happened in the real world were able to occur in this fictional narrative, but there is even an incredible evolution in just how our quartet have been taking on the bloodthirsty undead that have taken over the planet.
Indeed this doesn’t just have the awesome impact in regards to how this movie approaches its human vs zombies conflict scenes, which involve the characters showing the audience their various strategies for taking on the various types of undead, but at the same time it also gives the film a brilliant way to elevate things up a notch. A way that consists of our heroes growing complacent and thinking they have seen it all when it comes to the zombie threat only to find a new zombie has risen that is much harder to thwart thus putting all of our quartet and their skills to the test in the best way possible.
All in all it should be said that Zombieland: Double Tap is not a true mind-blowing in every way possible sequel. That is because even though this is a movie which thankfully doesn’t commit the horrific error of just doing the same thing that the first one did all over again, it does nonetheless possess a narrative structure that will seem….familiar. Thankfully this is not by any stretch of the imagination a film that needed to rewrite the rules in order to be classified as a success. Indeed that is because at the end of the day Zombieland: Double Tap is still a fantastic new entry in the history of horror-comedies on the big screen, and proof that a decade-in-the-making cinematic reunion can truly be wild and crazy when it’s made with heart and passion and just a little hint of madness. On a scale of 1-5 I give Zombieland: Double Tap a solid 3.5 out of 5.