Ten years on, the little family of four in Zombieland: Double Tap are still doing what worked well when the zombie apocalypse first occurred. The rules of survival haven’t changed, though they may have been added to over all the years that Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and sisters Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Wichita (Emma Stone) have been roaming the badlands that were once the United States of America. It’s a bad, mean old world out there and it only takes one bite to quickly turn you into one of three (thoughtfully) classified types of zombie – the Homer, the Hawking, and the nasty new variety, the fast-moving T-1000’s.
Having upgraded their digs by relocating to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the four are rapidly growing bored with each other. The always slightly deranged parenting of Tallahassee is beginning to suffocate Little Rock, who is all grown up now and would kind of like to just hang out with people her own age and forget about guns for awhile. Splitting in the middle of the night with her big sister, Little Rock soon ditches protective Wichita for the guitar playing hippie Berkeley (Avan Jogia) who has somehow survived the last ten years by being a non-violent pacifist and claiming the work of long dead musicians as his own. On sneaking back into the White House soon after for more weapons, Wichita is a little shocked to find out Columbus wasted no time at all in replacing her in his heart. Or his bed, at least.
There are some valuable new additions to the Zombieland family. Madison (Zoey Deutch) is an adorably peppy mall-rat who’s somehow managed to stay immaculately turned out in pink the entire apocalypse; and the charming Nevada (Rosario Dawson) has enticingly – for mad Elvis fan Tallahassee – populated her roadside hotel with items ripped off from the nearby trashed Graceland. Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch pop up as curiously familiar apocalypse survivors too, and don’t forget to hang around during the credits to find out why we never did get that much-longed-for third Garfield film.
The formula for this new installment hasn’t changed much from the first Zombieland, a delightful comedic splatterfest first birthed to the world in 2009. It’s terrific to see the original actors teaming up again for the sequel, with the chemistry between the four still being the best part of the film. I was reminded that Harrelson, Eisenberg, Stone and Breslin have all gone on to be nominated for Academy Awards (or actually won a gong, in the case of Emma Stone) in the intervening years, and yet aren’t too grand to work together again in a genre that relies heavily on juvenile sarcasm and a gruesomely high body count.
Keeping the spirits high in a genre film that requires a significant amount of slaughter may seem like a tricky thing to achieve, but Zombieland Double Tap manages this by keeping the dialogue punchy and the relationships between the four the focal point of the film. Zombieland: Double Tap is going to best received by fans fondly remembering the first installment (tick) who want to see how everyone is tracking since they managed to accidentally ‘Murray’ one of the greatest comedy actors of our time. Zombieland: Double Tap throws in plenty of references to the first film which would add to the viewing experience of fans but also holds up well as a stand-alone for the newcomer.
A Zombieland sequel might not seem to have been on the personal movie wish list of all of us moviegoers, but very glad to see it was made anyway. Zombieland: Double Tap is directed by Ruben Fleischer.
Beware of bathrooms, enjoy the little things, and always Double Tap.
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Andy is a Perth based reviewer who has been moderating online book clubs and working with not-for-profits since the interwebs were young. Andy contributes to The Blurb on books, streaming TV, movies and Western Australian theatre. She is also a bit obsessed with podcasts.