Since the release of the first Zombieland back in 2009, much has happened in entertainment regarding the land of the undead. A little show called The Walking Dead premiered a year later, and in 2017, the zombie maestro himself, George Romero, passed away.
Much has happened with the stars of Zombieland in the decade since, too. Emma Stone has an Oscar for La La Land; Woody Harrelson got his third nomination in that stretch; and Jesse Eisenberg was nominated for The Social Network. Abigail Breslin received an Oscar nom before the first film for Little Miss Sunshine. With all of this Oscar business, might this crew of performers opt for more snobby fare rather than blowing up ghoul skulls for laughs?
Nope. Director Ruben Fleischer returns with the whole crew shockingly intact for Zombieland: Double Tap, a film that does little to add to the genre, but still delivers plenty of laughs and zombie gore. It’s basically the same as the first movie, with a little less originality, but a few more laughs thanks to a new co-star.
The zombie killers have taken up residence in the White House, with Wichita (Stone) and Columbus (Eisenberg) in a relationship that requires them to cover the eyes on the Lincoln portrait when they bed down at night. Columbus has his sights set on marriage, while Wichita still has some commitment issues. Tallahassee (Harrelson) is still searching for Twinkies—with a new goal to visit Graceland while leaving shredded zombies in his wake. Little Rock (Breslin) wouldn’t mind having her first boyfriend, at the age of 22.
Situations arise where it all becomes a road trip again—one that eventually leads to Graceland (sort of) and a commune called Babylon that looks like one of the towers on the cover of Wilco’s classic album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
Columbus and Tallahassee ride Segways at a ravaged mall (an ode to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead) and run into Madison (Zoey Deutch), a Valley Girl who has survived all these years living inside a freezer at the food court’s frozen-yogurt shop. Deutch is a total crack-up, mining laughs in every scene she occupies. When the film threatens to get a bit stale, Madison swoops in, donning a pink leisure suit with fake fur (she’s also a vegan) and livening things up.
Another joke that works is the late-in-the-movie entrance of Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch), two zombie hunters who look and sound an awful lot like Columbus and Tallahassee. While thinking about this movie, I realized that Albuquerque’s monster truck and the worn-down White House remind of Wilson’s turn in Idiocracy. Don’t you love how Idiocracy has become a classic after the studio dumped it because they thought it sucked?
Sorry … I’ve gone off track.
Of the returning big stars, Harrelson appears to be having the most fun, even going so far as to provide a decent cover of “Burning Love” over the closing credits. (Stay all the way through the credits, people.) Eisenberg is doing his usual shtick, but it’s a shtick that works, while Stone being here at all is shocking to me. I mean, she’s fine in it, but it’s weird that she returned for this, right? She was in The Favourite last year!
As far as bringing new ideas to the zombie genre, I do like how Columbus designates dumb zombies as “Homers” and smart ones as “Hawkings.” There are also the “T-800” zombies, who don’t go down after the double tap and keep on coming. Otherwise, the film is pretty standard issue when it comes to zombie carnage.
Will there be another Zombieland 10 years from now? This one strikes me as a last hurrah, and an OK/fun one at that.
Zombieland: Double Tap is playing at theaters across the valley.