‘I’ ON CULTURE
I was pleasantly surprised at Zombieland: Double Tap, a sequel to a movie I missed about 10 years ago that became a cult classic. It does not try to be a great film; all it wants is to have some fun. And in that, it does succeed. It is not an obvious sequel hoping to milk the audience for more cash with the same old thing.
This film avoids that by accepting the fact that the film takes place years later. The characters have aged, particularly Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who was a young girl in the previous film. The basic theme of the movie is how difficult a family can be and how important it becomes as most people have turned into zombies. And, keep in mind, zombies are really pretty boring. While they are interested in your brains, it is for nutritional purposes.
So this movie focuses more on the family, as well as a few new members, than the zombie crisis. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), the father figure, is still a trigger-happy nut. But Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has changed. He is no longer just a nerd, mostly because he has finally gotten into a relationship with slightly crazy Wichita (Emma Stone). The interactions remind me of an excellent situation comedy. He is earnest, and she is sarcastic. We have four very different people all living together as a really strange family trying to work together, whether they are aware of the fact or not, to stay a family.
A highlight of the film comes early on when the group decides to find a new place to live and selects the White House. Watching them clown their way through the fancy setting is often hilarious. Columbus likes the place because it feels secure and, as a bit of a nerd, he likes the history, while Wichita insists the eyes on Lincoln’s portrait in the Lincoln bedroom be covered before they are intimate. Tallahassee really loves the Oval Office. I admit, considering our most recent presidents, it was a kick to see an old-fashioned hillbilly nut sitting with his feet up on the desk in the Oval Office.
Problems arise because Wichita does not want to settle down and really get into as deep a relationship as Columbus wants, and Little Rock is tired of being the baby. She wants a man around her own age and a chance to party. The two women run off, leaving the men to deal with a lot of issues, some of which are mind-boggling. They meet Madison (Zoey Deutch), a really annoying (but very funny) character, who has survived by hiding in a freezer at a mall. She sets her eyes on Columbus just before, as it turns out, Wichita returns. The group goes after Little Rock, dealing with newly upgraded zombies along the way, while also meeting new people and finding their way into funny situations.
The new characters are as nuts as the originals. Berkeley (Avan Jogia) is a total pacifist, not willing to kill zombies even when they are threatening him, something that Tallahassee has a real problem with. Nevada (Rosario Dawson) is a tough woman with a blazing libido. Madison winds up in the middle between Columbus and Wichita.
The script by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham is funny. It focuses on developing these strange, weird characters who seem to love each other. Director Ruben Fleischer keeps things moving at a really fast pace.
The cast is uniformly good. Harrelson, of course, is over the top and hysterically funny. This is really his film. But Eisenberg is really solid in the more laid-back role of the narrator and general straight man. Stone proves again she is a very gifted comedienne with a great gift for sarcasm. Breslin, now grown, is excellent. Deutch nearly steals the film, however. She is a very gifted talent with great timing. There are few dull moments. Things move quickly, and there are laughs throughout. The plot is barely there, but the focus is really on the characters.
This is a fun film. It does not try to be great. Should you see it? You will probably enjoy it if you are willing to put up with a lot of gore and gross humor. But it is one of the funniest films I have seen in a while. So, if low humor is fine with you, this film will work.