Review: Zombieland: Double Tap

Score: B

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Rated: R

A decade after the original film might be a bit too late for a sequel to a movie that didn't exactly cry out for one. But when the results are this enjoyable, who am I to argue?

Zombieland: Double Tap is absolutely inessential, mostly a retread of the original, better film. But it introduces enough stellar new characters and keeps the laughs coming at such a steady clip that it ends up being one of the more enjoyable films of the year. It takes a bit to get going, as our foursome takes up residence in the White House and settles into a mundane routine. But once Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) sets out on her own and picks up hippie musician Berkeley (Avan Jogia), the film puts the pedal to the medal as the rest of the group tries to catch up with her.

The best of the new characters is definitely Madison, played with a wink by Zoey Deutch. She's a stereotypical dumb blonde, but also clever enough to have survived for a decade with zombies running around. (She mostly spent her days hiding in the industrial freezer at Pinkberry.) Her arrival immediately puts tension between Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Wichita (Emma Stone), and gives Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) a new person to hurl insults towards. The de facto leader himself also gets a love interest in Nevada (Rosario Dawson). It's an odd case where two charming screen presences actually have zero chemistry together. Their relationship is the weakest part of the film.

The only new wrinkle is that some of the zombies are harder to kill than previous incarnations. They're closer to the fast zombies of 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake (which gets name-checked) and dubbed T-800s (Terminator 2 also gets referenced). Otherwise, it's the same winning formula as the original. In one memorable scene, Tallahassee and Columbus meet their doppelgangers, played by Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch, respectively. The latter's resemblance is particularly uncanny, and their nerdy bonding plays out in contrast to the dick-swinging between Tallahassee and his rival.

There are many rules for surviving Zombieland, but there's only one rule for this sequel: If you enjoyed the first film, you'll find plenty to like here. If you didn't, you won't. This is basically the original, jacked up on Mountain Dew Code Red and sporting monster truck tires.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.