It’s debatable which film gave birth to the zombie comedy, or the zom com as the genre is also known. For modern audiences, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead seemed to set the standard. If Shaun of the Dead started this trend, then Zombieland confirmed that the zom com had legs. The winning ensemble, quotable one-liners, and innovative gore not only made for one of the defining zom coms, but one of the best zombie movies period. It also stood out as one of the funniest movies of the decade. While ten years have passed, little has changed in Zombieland: Double Tap. The characters remain every bit as appealing and watching this sequel feels like catching up with a group of old friends… with some zombies sprinkled in for good measure.
You can tell that this world ended in 2009 based on subtle touches. Barack Obama’s “Hope” posters can be found in the White House, suggesting Donald Trump was never elected. The Walking Dead comics exist, but there’s no mention of the TV show, which aired its first episode in 2010. Hostess products are scarcer than ever, proving that Twinkies really do have an expiration date. Although the world is virtually frozen in time, there have been a few notable changes. For example, more powerful zombies are beginning to sprout up, earning the nickname of T-800s.
Our heroes are looking to break out of their routine, especially Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who’s not so little anymore. Nevertheless, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) still sees her as a child, even though she’s been shooting up zombies since age 12. Meanwhile, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) wants to take his relationship with Wichita (Emma Stone) to the next level, although she’s still not big on commitment. Their relationship troubles are put on hold when Little Rock hitches a ride with a pretentious hippie from Berkeley (Avan Jogia). The gang thus sets out to track her down, bashing in zombie heads and trying to keep up their cardio along the way.
Although Breslin is unfortunately separated from the group for much of the film, the chemistry between Harrelson, Eisenberg, and Stone hasn’t lost its charm. On their road trip, the trio picks up a few welcome newcomers, most notably Zoey Deutch as a blonde airhead named Madison. Tallahassee and Columbus meet a pair of doppelgangers in Luke Wilson’s Albuquerque and Thomas Middleditch’s Flagstaff. Maybe in the next movie, they’ll run into Matthew McConaughey and Michael Cera. They also come across Rosario Dawson’s Nevada, an Elvis enthusiast who leaves Tallahassee all shook up.
You can tell that every cast member is happy to be on set and didn’t sign up just to collect a paycheck, unlike some other comedy sequels. Zombieland: Double Tap also doesn’t rely too heavily on your nostalgia of the first film by just repeating the same jokes. When we do get a callback, though, the filmmakers strive to push the gag to the next level. Director Ruben Fleischer doubles down on the zombie kills as well, making the first film’s amusement park climax look like a dress rehearsal. The film isn’t as fresh as the original and doesn’t offer many surprises. With enough laughs and thrills to spare, however, Double Tap reminds us that sometimes you just need to kick back and enjoy the little things.