Ten years later… and still making the most of the end of the world.
Following events that began a decade ago and inwardly documented by Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), he and his compatriots Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have settled into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as the world dies around them a little more each day. When Little Rock starts feeling lonely and Wichita begins questioning her relationship option with Columbus, the two women hit the road… stealing Tallahassee’s custom apocalypse-survival presidential limo dubbed “The Beast.” Unfortunately, our heroes aren’t the only thing that has had to evolve…
2009’s Zombieland picked up on the same vibe as 2004’s Shaun of the Dead in that it worked as a spoof of zombie apocalypse films as well as a worthy entry itself. Before Shaun, “zompoc” hadn’t quite exploded into film and television culture the way it has since, with signs of it waning as numbers continue to decline for AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and The CW’s “iZombie” completing a five-season run from start to conclusion in the interim. Still, there must be some life left in the genre — everyone knows The Dead Don’t Die — if only by continuing to make fun of all that’s come before… right?
Like slipping into a pair of favorite worn shoes, these characters are the perfect older versions of themselves, as comfortable and as predictable as ever. There’s plenty of fodder for walking-dead in-jokes with the film even poking fun at its own bits. As for breaking new ground, the sequel shuffles from trope to trope like a checklist and manages to come up with a few clever kills that haven’t already been exploited to death; whoever heard of a zompoc film that coasts? While Double Tap doubles down on farce, it feels like meeting up with an old friend you’ve lost touch with as if no time has passed… but equally like there’s no urgency to schedule a visit.
In addition to the usual suspects, new additions to the cast include Zoey Deutch as superficial how-did-she-survive-this-long Madison, Avan Jogia as pacifist guitarist Berkeley, Rosario Dawson as Elvis-loving Nevada, Luke Wilson as creepily familiar Albuquerque and his partner-in-crime Flagstaff played by Thomas Middleditch. The new parts are drawn with the same broad strokes and whimsy as their predecessors, so if you like what you got before, it’s more of the same. The trademark “kinetic typography” (words over the screen that interact as part of the actual world) have gone from a clever occasional bit to a significant part of framing the scenes.
While such descriptions may come off as apathetic, the sequel is nonetheless fun for fans, including monster-mashing monster vehicles, landmarks repurposed for zombie kills, and one glorious mid-credits cameo that’s worth the price of admission. For fans seeking a celebration of the living dead and all the trappings, it’s welcome must-see fare, but for those searching for any spark of newness, Romero has left the building.
Zombieland: Double Tap is rated R for bloody violence, language throughout, some drug and sexual content, and no one remembering that the Hope Diamond is cursed, you fools.
Three skull recommendation out of four
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