As Filling As A Twinkie: Zombieland: Double Tap

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Zombieland: Double Tap, the sequel to 2009’s Zombieland, takes place ten years after the events of the first movie. As a voiceover from Columbus tells us, the crew- Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin)- have become a close-knit family and expert zombie killers. But when Little Rock runs off and new, more dangerous zombie types emerge, Wichita, Tallahassee, and Columbus go on a road trip to rescue Little Rock and find a new safe haven. 

The most important thing to know about Double Tap is that it is remarkably similar to Zombieland, which is a feat for two movies that have a ten-year difference. Both are goofy, poorly paced, self-indulgent, charming in small doses, and have inconsistent characters. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one, because it feels like such a natural extension of the first, from the atmosphere, internal logic, comedy style, and gross-out violence, to the resolute refusal to use the zombies and apocalyptic setting for any kind of social commentary. It’s a straightforward movie about killing zombies. That’s what you get. 

Propelling this straightforward story is the exceptional cast, which continues to be the most compelling part of these movies. The only thing that would help would be if their characters were written with any consistency, but the movie gets to cheat by relying on the actor’s personas and outside affiliations. For example, Harrelson and Eisenburg have great chemistry, but the relationship dynamic between Tallahassee and Columbus fluctuates wildly throughout the two movies. However, the actors have a similar, but more concrete, relationship dynamic between their characters in the Now You See Me movies, and so my love for those movies and my liking of their dynamic there just carries over. Similar things could be said about Emma Stone and Rosario Dawson’s characters, which both borrow heavily from their respective actor’s typecasts. 

Abigail Breslin is, unfortunately, the weakest link. The movie doesn’t know what to do with her, so she ends up being a plot device more than a person. This was disappointing, as she is a great actress and I have a personal fondness for her (I looked a lot like her when I was 9 or 10, and my film preferences and personal aspirations were heavily shaped by her roles in Nim’s Island and Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Those movies rock). 

After I saw Double Tap, I asked the group I was with if this movie was for or against the second amendment, as it talks a lot about guns and much of the plot focused on when our heroes are armed or disarmed. While our heroes love guns, the climax cleverly removes them from the characters and forces them to defeat the zombie in another way (this makes the climax a lot better than that of the first Zombieland, and is also similar to the ending of The Three Amigos). After this philosophizing, my friends looked at me blankly, and then one, with insight I can only aspire too, said: “I think the zombies change things.” And she was right, and I realized the movie probably didn’t put that much thought into it. 

Double Tap doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel or build upon the first one. And while I generally prefer more ambition in movies and more effort, I saw this after a rough week and it was exactly what I needed. It truly is escapism with the flimsiest excuse for existing, and that, in moderation, is perfectly okay. Just like this film. 

-Madeleine D.

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