Zombieland Double Tap
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
The encouraging thing about Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland Double Tap arriving in theaters a full seven years after any fans of the original film expected some sort of sequel – and arriving after his Marvel misfire, Venom – is that we simply have no expectations for this sequel. It should have happened at one time – it didn’t. Now it’s happening far too late. Or is it??
Honestly the social landscape has changed so much since 2009 that as far as entertainment is concerned – even horror entertainment, which I struggle even giving the Z-Land franchise the ‘horror’ brand – movies don’t know how to have fun anymore. They’re cynical and uptight and in turn they take themselves far too seriously. And this from the guy who walked away from Todd Phillips’ Joker fairly certain he had seen one of 2019’s best motion pictures.
Zombieland Double Tap is built like a sitcom. It has its four main stars. In this outing we get many more walk-on roles. Namely hippies and hicks (both Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch almost steal this film from Zoe Deutch who clearly takes the thieves’ honors) locked in the eternal struggle between ‘Give peace a chance’ and bandy-legged ‘Tallahassee’s’ motto of ‘Nut up or shut up.’ It’s a hugs versus slugs scenario. And you know what? It feels American. It feels like the first film in years to embrace its home country – warts and all. Yes we’re brash, and loud, and our artistic expression lacks a specific dignity – but gawdamnit, this is America. And we love our dumb blondes, monster trucks, machine guns, Elvis Presley and tacky one-liners. And if a zombie plague were to befall the planet? There’s just no place like home. Whether you call that home Little Rock or Wichita or Columbus or Tallahassee – America is the place to be when the undead shit hits the fan.
So playing off of that theme we have our gaggle of zombie killers nesting in places like The White House (a minefield of critical political commentary happily skirted in this sequel – because why piss off half the paying public?) and Graceland. (in the original film Bill Murray’s Brentwood mansion was temporarily called home – there’s a definite white trash royalty theme to the settings chosen in these two films) Sitcom sets for all intents and purposes. Places for our heroes to share space together. To exchange philosophies and zombie extermination techniques. To finally maybe settle down, and start living the American dream. Which was a pleasant surprise because any sequel to a ten year old zombie feature could have very easily been a nightmare.
Few movies in 2019 are as fun -(or more importantly, know how to have fun) as Double Tap certainly is. It reminded me of Toy Story 2 in that it’s desire to make its world bigger didn’t destroy what already made it great. It’s core characters. It’s rare for more to be more – but in Zombieland II’s case it actually works. Terrific sequel.