“ZOMBIELAND” TAPS INTO A COMEDIC UNDEAD HORROR ROAD TRIP
A Film Review by Tim Riley “
ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP” (Rated R) “Zombieland: Double Tap,” a sequel ten years in the making to “Zombieland,” returns with the core group of four survivors of a disease-driven apocalypse that turned America into a dystopian wasteland.
This second installment could probably stand on its own merits, but it helps to know that previously Jesse Eisenberg’s Columbus was a nerdy college kid following a set of rules trying to make it home through a post-apocalyptic world filled with flesh-eaters.
With survival prospects for mankind dim, Columbus meets up with three strangers, the redneck Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and the tough Wichita (Emma Stone) and her younger sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).
At that time, they traveled through the Southwest with a goal of reaching an amusement park in Los Angeles that was believed to be a sanctuary free of zombies, only to discover that eluding the monsters is not so easily achieved.
“Zombieland: Double Tap” works off the same playbook, where the few remaining human beings have to be extremely resourceful and quick thinking, while armed with enough firepower to conquer a small nation to survive the treacherous terrain.
Family, albeit one that is dysfunctional, is the glue that binds the core group that has now taken up residence in the abandoned White House where they hash out their issues and personal conflicts in the Oval Office during the daytime
Columbus and Wichita, who had romantic sparks the first time, are now somewhat of a couple, spending their nights in the Lincoln Bedroom where the portrait of the Great Emancipator is respectfully blindfolded.
Now grown into a young woman, Little Rock chafes under the paternalism of Tallahassee’s father figure, and itches to get out of the stuffy White House to meet a guy her age, a tricky proposition since young, eligible men with a pulse are almost impossible to find.
One night, Columbus decides to propose to Wichita, proffering the Hope Diamond as the engagement ring. For her part, the cynical Wichita is at heart a loner and uneasy about settling down to a domestic life.
By the next morning, both Wichita, fearing commitment and unable to face Columbus, and Little Rock, wanting to be free of Tallahassee’s protective restraints, take off for parts unknown.
The sisters split in the presidential limousine that has been modified with heavy artillery. Meanwhile, Columbus and Tallahassee take a road trip to a mall where they meet Madison (Zoey Deutch), a dumb blonde Valley Girl who has survived zombies by hiding in a Pinkberry freezer.
Back at the White House, Madison takes a libidinous interest in Columbus, if for no other reason than Tallahassee is deemed to be an old geezer. Besides, what else is there to do for amusement other to play with artifacts taken from the Smithsonian?
When Little Rock runs off with neo-hippie pacifist musician Berkeley (Avan Jogia), Wichita returns to the White House looking for reinforcements to search for her sister, and is surprised to see Columbus has moved on to a new love interest.
With the ditzy Madison providing endless fodder for brain-dead jokes, the group sets off in a minivan on a rescue headed to Graceland, where it is believed Little Rock would be most likely to go due to her love for the King.
Surprises are in store for the travelers as they encounter several new species of zombies, with the most fearsome being the super powerful T-800, a nearly indestructible beast that has to be shot multiple times.
Ending up at a motel run by Nevada (Rosario Dawson), a fan of Elvis Presley that rivals Tallahassee’s passion, an interesting encounter comes when Columbus and Tallahassee find their striking doppelgangers in Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch) and Albuquerque (Luke Wilson).
Aside from the enjoyably humorous presence of Madison, Dawson’s independent and strong-willed Nevada is the most compelling new character, a kindred spirit to Tallahassee because she’s stubborn, self-sufficient and dangerous.
While Little Rock is not at the Elvis-themed motel, all signs indicate that she and her troubadour friend who wears hemp and says “Namaste” have set off for a hippie commune called Babylon. The inhabitants of Babylon have the misguided notion that they are safe from the zombie hordes and don’t allow anyone to bring any kind of weapons into their walled compound.
Much like the action at the amusement park in the first film, Babylon becomes not surprisingly the climactic showdown with a massive zombie attack that can only be repelled if Tallahassee’s inventive tactics pan out.
The bottom line is those who enjoyed the original “Zombieland” are likely to find the sequel “Zombieland: Double Tap” more or less just as much fun with its irreverent humor, which appears to be the goal set by the filmmakers.
As long as you find the desired payoff of cinematic pleasure was at hand, be sure to stay for the credits for Bill Murray’s appearances and don’t leave the theater until the lights go up.