Ten years is a long time in Hollywood and much has changed in the decade since Zombieland burst onto the cinema screen like a decapitated zombie brain. It could be argued, for instance, that a film such as 2009’s dynamite mix of comedy, gore and transcendence of genres may not have been made by a studio (at least not on a decent-sized budget) in 2019, and could have found its home on Netflix or an equivalent. The first film was such a hit that we were sure of a sequel, but it’s taken so long for it to all come together, the question will be asked: has it been worth the wait?
Such was the freshness and zest of the first that it was going to be nigh-on impossible to top and, as such, it was never going to hit such lofty heights. But despite such valiant attempts to breathe new life into the narrative, it all doesn’t quite work. It’s almost entirely reminiscent of Dumb & Dumber To, Anchorman 2 and Zoolander 2: all of those had to come to fruition but did it take a long time to materialise. Many others have taken less time, of course, and still come up with dust ut such is the task to “top” a comedy original that more often times, such endeavours fail. Double Tap doesn’t come close to the train wreckage’s to two of those aforementioned (Anchorman’s sequel the exception) but catching lightning in a bottle twice is a hell of a tough ask for anyone.
That said, however, this is a very welcome return, indeed: we arrive back at Zombieland with those many years passed: travelling across America together, our quippy foursome – Tallahassee (Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg), Little Rock (Breslin) and Wichita (Stone) – have set up shop in the White House, their new impenetrable fortress. With those craving human brains evolving into smart “Hawking’s” and unstoppable “T-800’s”, so does the dynamics
between our foursome and each is yearning for something new to shake up their lives, especially Little Rock who is craving “same-age” contact. So, she and her sister leave one of their notes for the boys and off they drive into the never-ending apocalypse, with their return unclear.
After many false starts, original scribes Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick were eventually lured back (of course, since the first film, Deadpool and it’s sequel has drastically increased their price tag) and considering the obstacles that lay in front of them, they, along with director Ruben Fleischer, have done a decent if unspectacular job here: there’s jokes and zombie-killing aplenty and some cool new twists but it’s “wink wink, nod nod” approach feels stale and doesn’t give it’s considerable cast any new places to go, feeling more like a greatest hits rather than a new album.
Our foursome, as ever, are a joy to watch such is their talent but they rarely have to get out of second gear here, with Emma Stone in particular massively underserved, while the token new arrivals don’t add much in the way of spark. Except one, the superb Zoey Deutch, who steals the film (when doesn’t she?) as ditzy “millennial” Madison. In fact, such is her brilliance that everything goes a bit flat when she’s not on-screen, her sheer presence evoking many of the film’s top laughs.
On the whole, then, Zombieland: Double Tap is ultimately a mixed bag: when it’s funny and furious, it’s worth every penny but so sporadic are those moments that it never comes close to its predecessor. Still, it’s nice to back amongst such a winning group and with Deutch’s welcome addition, there’s still much to enjoy.
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Horror, Comedy | USA, 2019 | 15 | 18th October 2019 (UK) | Sony Pictures Releasing UK | Dir.Ruben Fleischer | Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Zoey Deutch, Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone