While most sequels aren't always met with great expectations, especially when a decade has passed between the release of the original and the release of the next instalment, Zombieland: Double Tap was one that I was looking forward to watching. Not looking forward to enough to prioritise it too highly, mind you (which is why this review is appearing about four years after it was released), but I was heartened by the fact that everyone both in front and behind the camera was coming back for some more comedic zombie slaying.
We reunite with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) at a time when they seem quite happy with their lot in life. They take over a big house, they get to spend their days avoiding mayhem, most of their time is now available for them to just play around and have fun, and it's almost what you could describe as blissful. Then Wichita and Little Rock leave. Tallahassee and Columbus pick up a new companion (Madison, played by Zoey Deutch), but it's not long until Wichita returns to ask the guys for help. Little Rock is in danger, something much worse than the zombie carnage. She's gone off . . . with a musician.
Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are joined this time around by Dave Callaham, and it's clear that none of the three had a strong enough idea to make this whole adventure necessary. It's also clear, however, that working to a similar enough template to the first film isn't a terrible idea, considering that it allows us to spend more time in the company of characters who made such a strong impression the first time around. Director Ruben Fleischer is also happy to retain the same style and energy that added to the fun of Zombieland. Some may be quick to point out that you may as well just watch the first film again, and they wouldn't be too wrong, but there's still plenty here to enjoy, including a very fun performance from Deutch as the new, super-perky but not-too-bright, potential member of the group.
Harrelson and Eisenberg still work very well together, the juxtaposition of laid-back cool and constant anxiety keeping things amusing in between the more obvious gags. Stone adds more cool, and is as good as ever, while Breslin is enjoyable enough in her limited amount of screentime. Deutch aside, as she's already been mentioned, other newcomers to the series include Avan Jogia (the dreaded musician), Rosario Dawson (a character named Nevada who catches the eye of Tallahassee), and Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch (both fun, but playing two characters providing a comedic set-up that feels very close to a gag that was presented much better in Shaun Of The Dead).
If you had some kind of Zombieland bingo card then it wouldn't be long until you were shouting out "house". Metallica over the opening credits again, more rules to help you survive the zombie apocalypse, a journey to a final setting that may prove to be a deathtrap if a large enough zombie horde swarms in, and at least one fun celebrity cameo proving to be a highlight. The familiarity doesn't do enough to detract from the fun though. And, from the opening logo sequence to the end credits, this IS fun.
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