By Jason Delgado
The majority of zombie flicks and TV shows like The Walking Dead (you can read excellent recap articles on the show by FoCC Blog’s Transmute Jun here!) aren’t exactly what you would call fun romps. I wonder what the godfather of the zombie, George A. Romero, would say about Zombieland: Double Tap? Would he denounce it as “not being cinema,” as Martin Scorsese did with Marvel? I somehow doubt it. Romero loved the seminal zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead. I never read any disparaging remarks from him about the original Zombieland. I wish I could go back in time to when I met him at San Diego Comic Con, around the time that movie came out, and ask his thoughts on the film. I was content to just be a fly on the wall, but Romero was really cool with fans who came up to him, wanting to talk zombies. I’m going to guess that he’d be okay with the new flick, but the real question is how does the audience feel?
If you came to see Zombieland: Double Tap for its plot, then you came to the wrong place. If you came for more of the metal-infused action and deadpan humor of the first flick, complete with Deadpool-style quips, then you’re in for a fun ride. As a friend of mine astutely noted, the marketing for the movie says, “by the writers of Deadpool and director of Venom,” as opposed to just saying, “by the team that brought you the first Zombieland”. That probably has something to do with that first film being ten years ago (time flies!), and also the fact that superheroes are all the rage, yet at the same time, this description aptly communicates the flavor of the film.. The first Zombieland film was like a thrill ride, packed with action and laughs, with the final act even taking place at an abandoned amusement park. Double Tap is more of the same in a good way, although perhaps losing a bit of its luster, since it has been done before.
The theme for Double Tap, like Endgame, is really about family. Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have grown tired of the doting but obnoxious and immature father figure of Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), and the nerdy, man with many rules for surviving Zombieland, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg). They’re living in a state of staleness together in the White House, before newcomers Madison (Zoey Deutch), a fun-loving, hilarious valley girl, and Berkeley (Avan Jogia), a decidedly less funny new age hippie, liven things up for the old cast of characters.
A road trip filled with action and comedy ensues on their way to Graceland, where they meet the magnetic, Elvis-loving Nevada (Rosario Dawson), as well as doppelgängers of Columbus and Tallahassee, played pretty spot on by Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch. A new type of zombie threatens survival for all, while the makeshift family deals with infighting and relationship issues.
The best part of Zombieland: Double Tap for me was the performances by Woody Harrelson and Zoey Deutch, with an honorable mention going to Rosario Dawson, since she played a smaller role. They were the heart of the comedy and fun of the film, and even though some jokes fell flat, they brought the tireless effort that Emma Stone seemed to be lacking.
Double Tap didn’t break any new ground, but was anyone really expecting it to do so? It brought the thrills, the funny, and even a few frightful chills. I give Zombieland: Double Tap three out of five hot sauce packets. Former NFL coach Dennis Green once ranted after losing a game, “They are who we thought they were!” Well, Double Tap is what I thought it would be: just enough sauce to have a good time!