Ten years after the first ‘Zombieland’, the sequel seems less invested in delivering a cohesive, enjoyable story than it is in giving us just gags and sketches with the same characters in the same world. The lack of strong narrative thread in ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ makes it hard to invest in these characters and the amazing actors who play them because what fuels the story is really the punchlines that it just tries to get to. It’s a shame because there’s still a lot of fun to be had if they bothered, even just a little bit.
Ten years have passed since the last movie and our ragtag group of survivors -- Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), and Wichita (Emma Stone) -- have fought their way to The White House to call their home. But the strains of time have taken its toll, Little Rock is no longer a little girl no matter how much Tallahassee treats her like one and Wichita is finding Columbus a little too claustrophobic, so the two girls leave, sending Tallahassee and Columbus to search after them.
They meet Madison (Zoey Deutch), a stereotypical unintelligent blonde, where the broken-hearted Columbus finds some solace before reuniting with Wichita to discover she was also abandoned by Little Rock, who wants to shack up with Berkeley (Avan Jogia). Now the new ragtag group have to chase Little Rock while an evolved super zombie has come to raise the stakes.
Through a narration by Columbus that might’ve been a continuing style from the first movie, it feels inessential and lazy now as it tries to detail the new kinds of zombies that have evolved in the world of ‘Zombieland.’ It takes its time to identify them but, in the 99-minute running time of the whole movie, there are only three zombie attacks in the whole movie, four if you count the big opening sequence.
Within those four zombie attacks, we only really end up identifying the zombie categories once per zombie type. It feels like such an unnecessary story element. It has no real effect on the narrative, on how it complicates the character’s relationships with each other and with themselves, and it poses no real threat.
In fact, ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ leans so hard into its comedy that you feel absolutely no danger within the whole movie. It’s really just gag after gag after gag. And not all of them are funny, considering the amount of sheer talent in that cast. Not only do you have three Oscar nominees, one Oscar winner, and add Rosario Dawson into the mix, and there’s nothing these five cannot do.
Unless they don’t have a script worthy of their talents. It’s just a lot of the same punchlines that you can find in the first, especially when it comes to Columbus and his OCD/nice guy in a zombie apocalypse routine and Tallahassee's crass, redneck caricature, and their special dynamic. Even Zoey Deutch, who is given a lot to do, starts to feel boring, because how far and how long can you drag out a dumb blonde shtick in a movie about a zombie apocalypse when there’s not a lot of zombies in the first place?
There’s an attempt to try a contextualize all the violence that we just saw and this simple chase-after-Little Rock story with some narration about family and all that but, at the end of the day, the characters are still essentially the same, nothing was ever really lost, and never did you ever really feel that they were in danger.
Maybe shifting ‘Zombieland: Double Dutch’ straight into an all-out comedy for some light-hearted fun was a good idea. But there was so much more they can do with the humor and the characters and the setting. They could’ve gone really crazy than given us more of the same.