Ten years ago, as I was just starting out on my journey (notice I didn’t say “career”) as a movie critic, one of the first movies I reviewed was Ruben Fleischer’s genre mash-up Zombieland. At the time I gave it four and a half stars, praised it as “one of the year’s most truly entertaining movies”, and then I went to bed each night a-wishin’ and a-hopin’ for a sequel.
A decade later, we get it.
And, hot damn, it’s great.
Reuniting Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin with Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (and adding The Expendables writer Dave Callaham), Zombieland: Double Tap is more than just a rock-solid follow-up, it’s an insanely clever, laugh-out-loud-funny trip down memory lane to a world that is overrun by the living dead. And with the aforementioned cast as your guides (along with new additions Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Zoey Deutch, and Thomas Middleditch), how could you go wrong?
The action picks up ten years after the close of the first and finds the gang living in the White House (and “bringing some dignity to the office”). Tallahassee (Harrelson) has evolved into a father figure for Little Rock (Breslin), while her big sister Wichita (Stone) is shacking up in the Lincoln Bedroom with Columbus (Eisenberg). When Columbus pops the question, though, Wichita freaks out, takes Little Rock, and ske-daddles.
The fellas, hitting the long-abandoned local mall for some “retail therapy”, meet Madison (Deutch) a bubble-headed bleach-blonde who has been hiding out in the Pinkberry’s walk-in freezer. Later, when Wichita returns to announce that Little Rock has run off with a millennial hippie named Berkeley (Avan Jogia), the whole gang head off to rescue their friend.
Reese and Wernick wisely continue to dance with the one that brought ‘em, keeping their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks while also providing the requisite amount of splatter gore. Columbus’ Rules for Survival in Zombieland still get emblazoned across the movie screen at appropriate times, and the additions to the cast elevate the fun instead of distracting from it—particularly Wilson and Middleditch, whose characters arrive on the scene as doppelgangers of Columbus and Tallahassee.
Harrelson and Eisenberg lead the way in Double Tap, turning in performances that clearly demonstrate they were as anxious for a sequel as we all were, and Deutch steals every single scene she’s in. Only Stone seems to be somewhat jaded—although, to be fair, she went from virtually unknown actor to Oscar-winner in the time between Zombieland installments.
Fueled by generous amounts of meta-humor (including clever references to everything from The Walking Dead to the hilarious Bill Murray cameo in the original film) and enough zombie action to keep that camp happy, too, Double Tap is as good as could have been hoped for. And, just think, in just ten short years, we’ll be due for a third installment.