It has been 10 years since Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Woody Harrelson signed off as the Zombieland family in their 2009 film. In the span of those 10 years, there have been 2 American presidents, One Direction formed and broke up, The Jonas Brothers got back together, and the world lost iconic stars like David Bowie, Whitney Houston, Prince, and more.
Now, the cast is back for a 'Double Tap' exactly a decade later, and the fans couldn't be more excited to slip back into a film that brings us the memory of 10 years ago, when times seemed much simpler.
To recap, in the original Zombieland (2009) film, Columbus (Eisenberg) is the narrator of the story in what he calls 'The United States of Zombieland.' He tells about his first encounter with a zombie, and throughout the film, he offers a set of rules to follow to ensure that you survive just as he has. During his story, he runs into Tallahassee (Harrelson), and the two create an unlikely friendship. They soon after meet Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin), and in a crazy string of events, the four characters go on a road-trip through Zombieland, trying to find a place to settle.
The original Zombieland was a highly character-driven film rather than a story-driven one. Each character of Zombieland contributes a contrasting personality to another, making way for witty banter, overall hilarious dialogue, and creating a perfect adoptive-family unity. The twinkie-driven storyline of the film starts on a strong first half, but I believe the second half falls short of its predecessor- losing some of its momentum. However, the overall first film made its mark in the zom-com genre and is one of the best overall in my opinion.
With that being said, I was never expecting a second film after the years started to go by, and when I heard news of its filming, I was over-the-moon excited. Then I saw the trailer, and I figured it was going to be a rushed project- made just to make a quick buck off the nostalgia of its fans, without giving proper care to the jokes nor the storyline. I was afraid that because the story is so character driven, and the original characters are what make the entire film, then introducing too many new characters would take too much away from the original cast.
Alright, so fast forward to just two nights ago, and I am seated for Zombieland: Double Tap (2019), in a completely packed theater, feeling anxious yet excited... and what can I say, I absolutely loved this film. It felt like it picked up on the slow momentum from the end of its predecessor and just elevated it again to the original hype that's associated with the overall series. It was an absolute fun ride throughout, and I believe it exceeds the original film by just a sliver. While Zombieland (2009) focuses on survival of the zombie apocalypse, Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) shows just how hard that execution actually is. There are more deaths and zombie-gore this time around, providing a new look into the zombie universe.
The story picks up a few years after the end of the first one, where Wichita and Columbus are blossoming their relationship in sweet domesticity, and Tallahassee has really taken on a fatherly role for Little Rock. The quadruplet are crashing at the White House and hoping that this could possibly be their forever home, except for Little Rock of course. As she is coming out of her adolescence, she no longer wants to be tied down with her father figure, her sister, and her sister's lover. She's ready to leave the nest.
I do not want to reveal the entire plot, so let's just say that the story moves forward with Wichita, Tallahassee, and Columbus on a road trip through a zombie-ridden America to find Little Rock and bring her to 'safety,' at least the most they can offer. The major theme of this film is about finding a 'forever home,' and our narrator leads the audience through that journey. With that being said, the film doesn't delve too deep into trying to take itself too seriously with this theme. It's a sweet, cut-and-dry attempt, and from there, the audience is taken on a crazy ride through zombie killings and more. Sometimes it feels good just to watch a fun, monster movie- one that isn't going to have you digging your nails into the seat in anxious fear.
What I loved about this film was there were more zombies, more gore, and more creative, elaborate zombie killings. The film was able to keep the audience interested by keeping up with the same world and ideas from the original film that made it so memorable (like the rules and ZKOTW's) but also by introducing some new ones to the mix.
Each character is able to continue to capture their original charms, but showing more maturity and a better companionship with each other. Woody Harrelson is an absolute gem, and Tallahassee is one of my favorite characters he portrays. He is a riot the entire time, full of a charm, emotion, and a simple mindset that makes him say things like, "Time to nut up or shut up" and "Let's kick some dicks." The introduction of new characters actually ended up elevating the overall movie. They each made a name for themselves as eccentric, unique characters, but their overall purpose was still to offer more depth and support for the original fab-four. Still, I enjoyed the new characters, and they were more than nameless, pointless figures that just filled up space.
There are so many scenes of this film that will stick with me. The opening sequence was massively better than the original one, and it really sets the stage for what's in store for the rest of the film. There's even a one-shot sequence that wraps up everything you could ever want in a comedy, zombie movie.
My biggest issue with this film lies with some of the new characters and the jokes surrounding them. The 'dumb blonde' trope is tired as hell. I was waiting for the ‘sike’ on her character the entire time, but she remained clueless and the butt of many of the initial jokes. However, Zoey Deutch killed the part. Her lines were terrible, but her comedic timing and her dedication to the role made it otherwise enjoyable. She was absolutely adorable, and you still can't help but enjoy the character (not for the writers, but for Zoey.) Furthermore, the trope of "useless, Californian millennials and Gen-Zers" was tired too. “Let's melt all the guns and make peace signs out of them” felt so forced, it was nauseating. Making them so desensitized and helpless felt like an unjustified representation. I live in a small suburb in Indiana, so I know there were some boomers in my theater who felt validated watching this film. It felt like some bad joke on the state of society, and it just wasn't for me.
Overall, however, I did enjoy this movie, and it never lost momentum. If anything, I believe this film picks up about 30 minutes in and ends on a higher note than it started on. There's a sweet, on-the-nose finale about home being where the heart is, and with that, I left the theater feeling satisfied as a fan.
**If you haven't seen the film, make sure you don't get up as soon as the credits start rolling, so you can watch a little treat from Bill Murray! If you have seen the film, though, let me know what you thought of that little bit of fun.**
Jacindable Rating: ★★★½
starring, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Avan Jogia, Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch, Victoria Hall, and more
written and directed by, Ruben Fleischer, Rhett Reese, Dave Callaham, and Paul Wernick