New from Al and Linda Lerner on Movies and Shakers: Zombieland: Double Tap

You need to turn off all logic and go with the concept or you’ll walk out after the first twenty minutes of this Zombieland sequel. But stick around for some fun. Here they, 10 years later, still surviving in a world filled with flesh-eating zombies. Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenbertg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are back running around with some new characters to liven things up, that help the film squeeze out enough disgusting, bloody fun with some cool kickers. Is a full-on comedic  sequel necessary? Not really.

Don’t even try to make sense of the world that Director Ruben Fleischer (Venom, the original Zombieland) and return writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick(Dead Pool) and Dave Callaham have created. Don’t question how they manage to get food and water, let alone fresh looking clothes and even full make-up for Stone and Breslin. And when the group hits the road don’t ask how they keep the tank filled with gas and how those cars, jeeps and trucks keep coming back no matter where the characters end up. 

Ten years ago, you simply couldn’t avoid zombies on TV or on theatre screens. One of the leaders of the charge was Zombieland with it’s quartet of quick-talking, head-bashing, gun-toting zombie killers. This time,  Tallahassee (Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg), Wichita (Stone) and a now young adult Little Rock (Breslin) find their way to the White House. 

Here they can riff on U.S. History while playing in the halls of what was once ultimate power. There’s a nice long shot following these characters through the halls, up the stairs to the Oval Office and the Lincoln bedroom They could have come up with more and better jokes living in that setting, but it got so boring, Wichita and Little Rock split and go off on their own leaving pining and heartbroken Columbus behind.  

Tallahasse and Columbus get bored too and set out for a local mall and encounter the best addition to the cast, Madison (Zoey Deutch). She’s  been surviving all these years living in an ice cream freezer. She steals every one of her scenes with her dumb blonde, Valley-Girl persona. She is the perfect counterpart to Wichita’s sarcasm and Columbus’ earnest desire to be a good boyfriend.

Director Ruben Fleischer (Venom and the first Zombieland) turns this into a road trip through desolate America. When the group pulls into Graceland, home of his hero, Tallahassee is ecstatic with Elvis references everywhere. The current resident of Graceland happens to be one bad-ass yet sultry zombie-killer, Nevada (Rosario Dawson). Dawson is a delight as she plays her part with just the hint of a wink as opposed to Woody Harrelson who plows through with his role with foot all the way down on he gas pedal. 

wish they had written more for her character. Then, while in Graceland, Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch have some fun in their cameo-esque appearance as dopplegängers to Harrelson and Eisenberg. The stunt doubles earned their money on their big fight scene. That’s well played. 

With a couple exceptions the film progresses in very predictable ways. When Little Rock runs off with a guitar-playing-pacifist-pot-head named Berkeley, (Avan Jorge), she finds a place of peace where she can belong. Her buddies finally find her, and the pack gets back together. But how long will it take for the zombies to find them too? 

Director Fleischer and the writing team also introduce a new menace in an evolving super-zombie. Have no fear. There’s no doubt this gang will find some way to defeat the hordes of undead, knee deep in plenty of blood and guts flying all over the place. The shots from the top of the tower of Little Rock’s new found paradise provide an excellent vantage point to see the all out war between the good guys and another disgusting bunch of zombies.

Underneath all the gory axe chopping, exploding body parts, and crushed skulls you get the feeling that our gang is bonding and becoming a family of their own. Through all the snide remarks and jabs there is a real connection which is sentimental and touching in a very weird way.

Each cast member gets to create their own big laugh, but it’s obvious that Harrelson has the most fun and satisfaction being back in this film. But you’ll get the most satisfaction if you stay through to see some of the best post credits on any film. If there was an after-film awards category, this would get the first nomination for the film and for Bill Murray. Double Tap is a sequel clearly made for fans of the first Zombieland, but even a newbie will get the storyline within a few minutes. There are some funny bits and moments. Could this be the end or will these zombies live another day? Anyone for Zombieland: Triple Threat?

Columbia Pictures   1 hour 39 minutes      R

from Movies and Shakers

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