I re-watched Zombieland the night before going to see Double Tap to remember why I loved it so much when I first saw it and get myself hyped for the sequel. I can tell you I loved it just as much during the re-watch! The charm of Zombieland, for me, was the teaming up of 4 unlikely companions and the narration from one very unlikely survivor. Combined with the perfectly timed comedy and zombie gore, it made for a unique zombie movie experience! No matter how crazy things got or how far into ridiculousness the humour pushed things, the relatable characters (on the most part) kept Zombieland grounded and retained the film’s ability to pack a punch right in the emotions. Did Zombieland: Double Tap retain the charm of it’s predecessor? Not as well as I would have hoped.
It starts off strong, throwing us straight into the action quite a few years on from where Zombieland left off. Our make-shift family of four decide they’ll set up shop in none other than the White House. Things appear to be going well for them (all things considered), but the cracks are beginning to show. Wichita and Columbus are seemingly still going strong and Tallahassee has become the overbearing father figure Little Rock never asked for. Little Rock, now all grown up, is wanting to be acknowledged as an adult, find a love of her own and break free from her faux-nuclear family. After a few twists and turns along the way and the sudden appearance of a peace-loving hippy man, it looks like she might get everything she wants.
It doesn’t take long for things to ramp up into the realm of nonsensical in terms of character development and world building. Zombies have begun evolving into three (or is it 4? ooo) different strains. This alone wouldn’t be a totally frustrating addition, if it had been utilized effectively, but introducing this concept almost has no actual consequences in the film. It just ends up feeling like a bad, poorly executed writing call.
The way a lot of the character interactions go down feels like Double Tap has picked up straight from where Zombieland left off. It doesn’t feel like they’ve known each other 10 years, and none of them seem to have developed as individuals or in relationship depth at all. The characters all lose a bit of the relatable magic that kept the first film grounded and hard-hitting.
On top of this, 90% of the characters introduced in this film are caricatures. None of them have real backstories and it is impossible to believe that any of them could actually exist if the zombie apocalypse had actually been going on for years. They certainly do help bring the laughs though. The way characters who are strangers interact with each other certainly reflects a highly optimistic view of humanity. Double Tap is very self aware in this regard and AMC’s The Walking Dead is even referenced by comparison to their ‘reality’.
I know I’ve been complaining a lot that the new characters are all pretty ridiculous… but in terms of comedy, they’re actually pretty brilliant. No matter how much I wanted to not like Zoey Deutch’s STOOOOOPID character, Madison, I literally could not stop laughing at most things she said. Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch also played their parts to comedic perfection. Rosario Dawson’s character, Nevada, is possibly the only slightly ‘grounded’ new character in the film – even if the shine of her badassness is slightly dimmed by the feeling that she’s mostly just there to be a mouth for Woody Harrelson to stick his tongue in.
Zombieland: Double Tap exists to make you laugh. If you go in aware of that and not expecting a film that will stay with you on some ‘deeper’ level, you will undoubtedly have a very enjoyable evening. Double Tap has so many moments of pure comedic genius and premium zombie kills that the change in overall tone from the first film is forgivable. As my husband puts it: it’s 95% comedy and 5% heart.