Zombieland (2009) was a ghoulish parody of the then craze of undead movies and shows gripping the nation at that time. It starred Jesse Eisenberg (Columbus), Woody Harrelson (Tallahassee), Emma Stone (Wichita), and Abigail Breslin (Little Rock), with a memorable cameo from Bill Murrary playing himself. Zombieland 2: Double Tap (2019) is a ghoulish parody of the the craze of undead movies and shows currently gripping the nation. It stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin, with a memorable cameo by Bill Murray playing himself. So, in other words, not much has changed.
Okay, so Zombieland 2: Double Tap does feature some new characters such as Madison (Zoey Deutch) and Nevada (Rosario Dawson). However, if you remember the first iteration, it follows the same basic plot: characters find each other, they split up and then attempt find their lost friends, and fight off a large crowd of those bitey fellows hungry for their brains in the climactic scene. Outside of a few unfamiliar faces, you could almost put these movies side-by-side and I am guessing they would be fairly indistinguishable from one another. A testament to this fact was the relatively light note-taking I did during the film, though this was also partially due to me not wanting to disturb my girlfriend resting on my shoulder.
Did I like Zombieland 2: Double Tap? Actually, yes. Yet this was more of a function of my love for its predecessor than for a ton of originality on its part. The 2009 version was a fresh take on a much used genre (excepting, of course, the equally hilarious Shaun of the Dead (2004)). The current one made a few jokes that make more sense today, like when the dimwitted Madison underscores the absurdity of Uber/Lyft when she raves about an idea she has for strangers picking you up for rides, especially handy if you are drunk at a bar. But most of the humor was derived from coming up with inventive ways of dispatching zombies, which was a hallmark of the original. With Double Tap, it is kind of like hearing once more one of the funniest jokes you have ever been told, but because you know it the laughs (while genuine) just do not hit as hard. I loved seeing the Italian man smash the living corpses by finally toppling over the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but how different is that really to when the nun dropped a piano on them ten years ago?
Another aspect of Zombieland 2: Double Tap shared with its prequel was its heart. Each one of the four main characters (Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock) all have varying personality types, though they are not so rigid that they cannot experience growth throughout the movie, which they all very much do. But what makes it ultimately transcend the blood and gore is the familial bonds formed between the four. I have often heard Catholic religious brothers and sisters talk about the difficulties of living together in community. Despite the fact that they are all there to worship and serve the Lord, their differing ways of viewing the world can often make for a lack of harmony in a place that should be an oasis of prayer like a monastery or a convent. Nonetheless, like with the movie, living with people in close quarters on a daily basis presents unique challenges that need to be overcome if the community is to be successful. That is really what both Zombieland films teach us.
I say “both Zombieland films” because, basically, if you have seen Zombieland, you have seen Zombieland 2: Double Tap. No amount of new characters or new behaviors of the undead will change that fact. It is funny, to be sure, but in many of the same beats as the last one. If you loved the first, I am sure you will see the second. If you did not see the first, do not worry. You will get the gist from this one. A solid movie, though.