After ten senseless years, Zombieland is back because, as you know, there’s nothing like striking while the iron is cold.
In all seriousness, or at least in the closest to serious I’m capable, Zombieland is one of my favorite movies. The cast, the gore, the humor… to me, this movie simply hit all the right marks. Even my ex-wife who hated horror, hated gore, and hated zombie movies enjoyed this one and that is really saying something about the broad appeal of Zombieland.
Honestly, there should have been a followup to this movie years ago, but Hollywood is a bitter and very stupid mistress and, after a decade of delays, we have Zombieland: Double Tap and… it’s okay.
I did not hate this movie, so that’s something… but I didn’t feel the same warmth as I did in the first movie. Where Zombieland hit all the targets, Zombieland: Double Tap made it feel like hitting the dart board at all was an accomplishment.
Ten years have passed since the first movie (obviously) and Tallahassee, Columbus, Little Rock, and Wichita are surviving the apocalypse in style by moving into the White House and calling it home. Things seem fine until Columbus asks Wichita to marry him prompting Wichita and Little Rock to leave in the middle of the night. After a month, Wichita returns because Little Rock abandoned her for a hippy named Berkeley and, with Columbus’ new girlfriend, Madison, in tow, the four of them go off looking for their wayward family member.
Here’s the problem: In Zombieland, this collection of characters were charming. Sure, they had their faults and screwed one another over as it suited them, but at the end of the day, they liked each other and we as an audience liked them.
In Zombieland: Double Tap, these characters… they’re just awful people for the sake of being awful. In the first thirty minutes, Witchita comes off as spineless and meaner than usual, Little Rock is so selfish that she actually leaves her sister without a car in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
We’re supposed to root for these two? Let them walk… good riddance.
It says something about this movie that Tallahassee… the character written to be the biggest jerk of them all comes off as the most likable and charismatic.
Okay, so the characters are off… what about the story?
Well, here’s the thing… in the story, the characters don’t grow, don’t change, and don’t really come together as a family as you would think that they would. I mean, sure… some of it “happens” but none of it is believable. Motivations turn at the whim of the script, one minute Tallahassee is saying that he’s leaving and the next, he’s back and treating the others like a family just because… movie.
The first Zombieland was not only funny, but it showed the characters grow and change as the situations evolved them. That doesn’t happen here… at least not in a believable way.
The movie finds the Zombieland crew on their way to a hippy commune called Babylon where guns aren’t allowed. I thought that maybe they were making some kind of commentary on the left or on liberalism in general, but no… the commentary boils down to “hippies stupid” which, given that it’s 2019, is as relevant as building a nuclear fallout shelter in your backyard. There are jokes about how much Tallahassee hates Hippies and we hear him whine and complain about them not allowing guns, but that’s it… that’s as far as the commentary goes. It’s a dead end and, worst of all… it’s not funny.
As far as humor goes, yeah… I’ll admit that the movie does have its moments. There are some one-liners and gags I found funny. Madison, despite being an airhead stereotype that stopped being funny exactly thirty-three minutes after Clueless was released, does have some amusing lines. As I said, almost everything that Woody Harrelson does is hilarious. Everyone else… I can’t tell if they didn’t want to be there or if they just couldn’t make the script work.
There are a few neat worldbuilding moments as Zombieland: Double Tap opens with the promise that the zombies are evolving, but most of that is brushed out of the way in favor of showing “tougher” and “faster” zombies called T-800s which, really… by the end of the movie die just like any other zombie does so it was mostly a waste.
Again, I’m not saying that this is a bad movie, but it does fall pitifully short of the bar raised by the first movie. It really says something that the mid-credits scene presents a scenario that is more entertaining and interesting than the entire movie that came before.