Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

“You mean well, but you’re kind of overbearing.”

I remember enjoying 2009’s Zombieland because, during the utter deluge of zombie movies at the time, it was able to blend comedy and inventive survival tactics in ways I hadn’t really seen since the far superior Shaun of the Dead. It was quirky, mean-spirited yet wholesome, and brought a style to the genre that was mostly all its own. That was then, though. In Zombieland: Double Tap, a sequel nobody asked for or even needed, everything is rehashed and reheated to the nth degree. A bigger budget and a longer run time can’t mask the fact that after ten years, they basically made the exact same movie with the exact same message. Plagiarism this blatant is only more obvious when a student copy and pastes a Wikipedia page and submits it as an original essay.

After a sluggish slo-mo opening sequence drawn out to the tune of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” featuring the familiar quartet blazing through zombies as they approach an overgrown and empty White House, Double Tap largely falls into the same rhythm established in the previous film. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) maintains that callous charm, the neurotic Columbus (Jessie Eisenberg) lives by the same rules, Wichita (Emma Stone) still struggles with relationships, and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) begins to rebel against this makeshift squadron of a family. Even during a zombie apocalypse, the teen still wants to find a boyfriend, as well as to escape the proxy parenting of Tallahassee. You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that she runs away with her big sister. After all, we saw that happen in the first movie.

Little Rock meets Berkeley (Avan Jogia), a pot smoking pacifist who pawns classic songs off as originals, and the abrupt and often interruptive stoner element only furthers to muddle the tone of an already thoroughly disjointed film. A second act plot point doesn’t help things out either, as it literally doubles down on the stubborn and now annoying, empty banter between Tallahassee and Columbus with a severe case of déjà vu. So while the film is messy, tedious and surprisingly unfunny, the one – and only – positive is Zoey Deutch’s air-headed performance as Madison, a beautiful blonde with as much brains as the flesh-eating zombies. Double Tap might be a dumb movie, but Deutch brings so much intelligence to the ditzy role, stealing every single scene she’s in. I honestly would have preferred a sequel solely about Madison’s own meandering, high-heeled travels through Zombieland. Something tells me that’d have been funnier and more original than this forgettable retread.

Double Tap features evolved, harder to kill zombies nicknamed T-800s in a nod to The Terminator franchise, and it’s clear director Ruben Fleischer’s film thinks itself to be just as advanced. But there’s also a bumbling bozo breed called Homers to honor The Simpsons patriarch. You don’t have to fear a Homer because they’re clumsy, inept idiots who get in their own way, to the point of killing themselves with no awareness. That sounds like, to me at least, a more apt description of what it means to sit through Zombieland: Double Tap, quite possibly one of the worst comedy sequels I’ve seen in recent memory. I’m not sure it even deserves that designation, because this disaster is as close to a remake as they come.

“Unless you’re in a 4D theater, there is no way I can communicate how bad Z’land smells.”

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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