It’s been 10 years since director Ruben Fleischer’s tour of Zombieland, and little has changed in this sequel. Zombie killers Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are still traversing America and dispatching the undead. Well, maybe one thing has changed. The quartet that audiences have loved for a decade are getting a little tired of each other, and after exhausting a stay in the ruins of the White House and with everyone tiring of Columbus’ patronizing “Rules for Surviving Zombieland,” they decide to split up and go their separate ways.
Everyone whose brains haven’t been eaten knows that won’t last, because the Zombieland franchise isn’t about zombies — it just happens to have a few shambling about. Zombieland and its descendant, Double Tap, are about a family of personalities whom we love, with its Oscar-nominated — and in the case of Stone, Oscar-winning — cast delivering perhaps not their finest performances, but the ones in which they are arguably having the most fun, possibly, of their careers.
With the foursome apart after a decade of post-apocalyptic sightseeing, there’s a void to be filled, and sure enough our heroes meet other survivors to play off, including hippie Berkeley (Avan Jogia), clueless valley girl (except she lives in DC) Madison (Zoey Deutch), and self-appointed Graceland caretaker Nevada (Rosario Dawson), along with a few choice cameos by graceful guest stars. While Nevada seems to be savvy about the times she’s living in, Berkeley and Madison are oblivious, which also adds to my thesis that, despite some gory scenes that are funnier than they ought to be, Double Tap is not a true zombie movie. None of the characters behave as though the situation is real and that they are subject to being devoured by the living dead at any moment.
Even more than its parent film, Double Tap is a cartoon.
But it’s not a bad cartoon. Quite the contrary. Audiences love these actors and these characters even more now than they did in 2009, and arguably at least some of that love — possibly even some of the actors’ own successes — is due to the reception of the first film. People want to see these guys. I want to see these guys. I’m happy that actors the stature of whose careers means they never have to do a low-budget zomcom again were willing to do one anyway for old times’ sake.
My only complaint is that, in a zombie movie that’s honestly more character-driven than gore-driven — although there’s still gallons of gore — Dawson’s Nevada isn’t really given the development she deserves and wants, except that she and Tallahassee share a reverence for Elvis Presley, and that she’s as powerful a female survivor as Wichita and Little Rock. Of all the new characters, she meshes with the familiar gang best, and is obviously having a ball. When actors have this much fun, it’s as contagious as the zombie virus.
Don’t leave when the credits start. Enjoy the little things, and remember: Cardio.