Current Issue #477

Film Review:
Zombieland: Double Tap

Sony Pictures

This longtime-coming sequel to 2009’s Zombieland is bigger, sharper and funnier, and features a formidable cast, nastier zoms and much cool fourth-wall busting.

Although original producer/director Ruben Fleischer wanted to make a sequel for years, there were endless delays: the stars were always too busy; Emma Stone was off making La La Land and nabbing an Oscar; the screenwriters were committed to the first Deadpool; and so on. And on.

Nevertheless, the sequel is here a mere ten years after part one, and offers the return of all four original players, a swag of new and improbable survivors, a more expensive look and many ‘meta’ gags, as characters freely discuss Dawn Of The Dead and The Walking Dead while amusingly deconstructing the movie they’re actually in. Even Columbia’s ‘Torch Lady’ gets attacked by the undead at the very beginning.

Some years (but probably not 10) after the first film, that spiky quartet is reintroduced: still-nerdy Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), would-be bad-ass Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), tough-as Wichita (Emma) and her grown-up sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). They’re on their way to an apocalyptic-looking White House while fighting off (running) zombies in slow-mo over the opening credits, and when they get there, the place looks a little dusty but otherwise surprisingly okay given the whole end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it thing.

They’re also unusually clean and well-nourished, which is a striking contrast to traditional survivors of zombie epics, who tend to appear more filthy and feral. But that’s all part of the joke.

Columbus and Wichita’s relationship is going stale and Little Rock is longing for a real boyfriend (or at least someone her age), and after the girls shoot through, possibly for good, Columbus and Tallahassee stumble upon Madison (Zoey Deutch), an ermagerd-type gal who’s been living in a mall freezer for years but still looks like she’s just stepped out of a particularly vacuous fashion magazine.

Little Rock also runs into a dope-smoking, guitar-strumming hippy-dippy sort named Berkeley (Avan Jogia), who claims to have written Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone and spirits her away to a peace-man commune called Babylon where, ludicrously, no guns are allowed. The others also take a trip to Graceland (or at least next door) and meet the rather awesome Nevada (Rosario Dawson) and zombie-slaying double-act Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch), who are obviously their mirror images (and don’t worry, no spoilers are necessary here because this is all in the trailer, of course).

Given the gruelling seriousness of much zombie cinema (and the plodding pomposity of TV’s The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead), it’s a relief to see a pic where the whole zombie trick is treated with such irreverence, and the players offer hilariously straight-faced performances.

DM Bradley

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