The original Zombieland, which accounts for 67% of TNT’s daily programming, was a breezy romp elevated by oddly dynamic chemistry and nuggets of cleverness. The odds against replicating said chemistry-enhanced breeziness and clever nuggs kept them from attempting a follow-up for around a decade. But the bible says even Jesus will one day get a sequel, so here we are.
Like a pop song crammed with the word “baby” and set to a preprogrammed keyboard beat, Zombieland: Double Tap is a perfectly-fine-but-lazy repeat of what it should have rhymed. Take the opening credits. The first flick’s sequence was a slo-mo series of silly/gross zombie killin’ set to Metallica. “Rhyming” would be if Double Tap played on that, maybe with a gory scene set to Lil Nas X or something. Instead, we get a different Metallica song. Woo hoo, expectations literally barely met!
Plot was never a factor, but this time Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have achieved a boring post-apocalyptic level of routine and normalcy, albeit while living in the derelict White House. Sorry, in the “more derelict” White House. Sidebar: In the year of garbage two thousand and nineteen, if your film is so afraid of offending any potential ticket purchaser that your political humor is kept to “Taft was fat” jokes, maybe don’t use the White House as a primary location for your comedy?
Wichita gets spooked by Columbus flagrantly disregarding her explicit boundaries—more on that later—and Little Rock yearns for companionship beyond her dysfunctional makeshift family. So the two fly the coop. In mourning, Columbus bumps into and then bumps into Madison (Zoey Deutch) before Wichita returns and informs them that Little Rock has fallen in love with a filthy hippie (Avan Jogia). The subsequent pursuit after her introduces the gang to doppelgangers of Columbus and Tallahassee named Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch) and Albuquerque (Luke Wilson), who are used the exact right amount: one scene. Tallahassee also meets Nevada (Rosario Dawson) because the film is oddly obsessed with every man and woman finding an opposite sex partner.
Actually, the whole of Double Tap is overtly bro-tastic, down to its ongoing (and far less funny this time) deification of Bill Murray and a running gag about a white dude having Native American heritage. It’s like somebody spilled zombie blood into the mouth of The Chive. Although nobody should take life lessons from a series with Metallica in the credits twice, what writers Dave Callaham, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick do with the Columbus/Wichita storyline is not awesome… Without getting into spoilers, the suggestion is that Wichita holding firm to clear parameters she set with Columbus in their relationship makes her some kind of ungrateful shrew. “Recognize how lucky you are that anyone wants to marry you, lady” is not an unreasonable way to read that entire storyline, likely inspired by an angry Reddit post.
Double Tap slowly, but not unenjoyably, saunters through modestly entertaining sequences before rushing through a “we have more budget this time” ending. Actually, that final sequence could have been great, were it more deliberate and not immediately followed by unearned emotional chum that gets baby-birded into audience mouths as if by an undead vulture. Ultimately, Zombieland: Double Tap is just capitalism in a nutshell: It only exists for profit and was made by workers who understandably delivered only what they were paid to do and not one ounce more.
Grade = C