REVIEW: 'Zombieland: Double Tap' is schlocky and a lot of fun

Wong Jia Min
Contributor
1 / 4

Zombieland: Double Tap

Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson in "Zombieland: Double Tap" (Photo: Sony Pictures)

Ten years after the first movie, Zombieland: Double Tap opens with Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) acknowledging that there is multitude of zombie entertainment to choose from, and thanking the audience for taking the time to watch this sequel.

In addition to Columbus, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) return for another zombie romp that sees them using the abandoned White House as their home and base. Cue the montage where they commit sacrilegious acts like using a painting of an ex-US President to wrap presents, or claiming presidential gifts from celebrities as their own.

In the midst of this fragile, temporary peace, Columbus proposes to Wichita (with the massive Hope Diamond, no less) in an attempt to cling on to one last shred of normalcy. Unfortunately, the mere thought of commitment drives Wichita to flee with Little Rock in tow, leaving Columbus confused and alone yet again.

One month later, after Columbus has found a new companion in ditzy blonde Madison (Zoey Deutch), Wichita suddenly returns with news that Little Rock has left with a new boyfriend in search of a mysterious place called Babylon.

By and large, Zombieland: Double Tap manages to recapture all the schlocky, goofy goodness of its predecessor, but the light, flippant tone of the movie is also one of its major drawbacks. Zombies may not have taken over the real world, but in the decade since the first movie was released, they have become a major genre unto itself in the world of entertainment. Just as Columbus mentions at the beginning of the movie, there is now a plethora of zombie media to choose from.

For most of the movie it feels like we’ve truly travelled back in time to 2009, which also means that in today’s media landscape, the movie comes across as stale and overdone as a steak left out on a barbecue overnight.

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What’s even more puzzling is why the cast and crew have returned for this sequel. Director Ruben Fleischer was responsible for the hit Venom, while scriptwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have gone on to bigger, better, and bloodier things with the two Deadpool movies.

As for the main cast, Harrelson and Stone have three Academy Award nominations between the two of them, Eisenberg is now better known for his portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Breslin is no longer a little girl. The core four all seem to be phoning it in here, with Stone looking particularly like her namesake, and in some parts the acting seems joyless and bloodless.

However, there is some new blood. Deutch was a surprisingly refreshing addition to the cast, a reminder of all the dumb Valley Girl stereotypes that used to be seen a lot more in the 90s and early 2000s, and is a fluffy pink palate cleanser next to the cynical and hardened Tallahassee.

There’s also a woefully short-lived and bland cameo from Luke Wilson, but it’s Rosario Dawson as Nevada who proves to be Tallahassee’s match. Dawson has been doing more voice work in the recent years, so it’s especially satisfying to see her kicking butt and shooting zombies in the head. Fans of the first movie will also be pleased to know that someone else from the original Zombieland makes a cameo, so be sure to stay on to catch the mid- and post-credit scenes.

But for all its flaws, Zombieland: Double Tap is more or less perfect to get into the Halloween mood. It’s eminently watchable and fun if you choose to check your brains in at the door, but don’t expect it to be a sleeper hit like the first movie was.

Score: 3/5 stars

Zombieland: Double Tap opens in cinemas on 31 October, 2019 (Singapore).