I read critics write about pointless sequels or remakes all the time. There is a constant argument about whether we “needed” another whatever in the world. Well, ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ is a perfect example of that. It does nothing particularly new. It has a plot that’s even less varied than the last one. And many of the jokes are just derivatives of jokes from the first movie. Yet, I really enjoyed just about every minute of it. Even when I was rolling my eyes at certain obvious twists, I was doing it with a pretty big smile. Which means that there must be something that works really well. That something is the most important part of every good movie. The characters here are just plain great!
Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Emma Stone are mostly just playing derivatives of characters they’ve played in plenty of other films, but the way these characters play off each other is about as entertaining as it gets. Their playfulness is infectious! Whether they are poking fun at each other or just riffing on something like Uber, it’s hard not to smile when they are talking. It also helps that Eisenberg and Stone have a fun bit of anti-romance that is oddly sweet. Hell, even the diss filled bromance between Eisenberg and Harrelson is kinda sweet. Breslin is okay, but she’s certainly the least memorable part of this film.
The newcomers in this are also pretty awesome. Rosario Dawson is bad ass and sexy as Nevada. Luke Wilson is a hilarious alternative to Woody Harrelson as Albuquerque. Thomas Middleditch has brilliant timing as Eisenberg’s doppelgänger, Flagstaff. But it is Zoey Deutch as the ditsy blonde, Madison, that is the best of the new cast. This role could easily have been terrible, but instead it is a riot.
The whole movie is a riot from beginning to end. And a lot of this is because of the fantastic writing team of Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Dave Callaham. Their riffs on the genre are hilarious, their pop culture references are cleverly sparse, and their understanding of what makes these characters work is clear. There is certainly some repetition to the storyline and the overall plot is about as thin as it gets, but that’s part of the point. They know the characters and zombies are the draw. Which is why that is exactly what shines.
Will we be talking about this movie a month from now or ten years from now like the previous film? Probably not. It’s nothing special. But, sometimes we just want to go to the movies to spend an evening with old friends. That’s what this movie gives us…..that and a bunch of zombie brains.