“Zombieland: Double Tap” takes us back to 2009, when its predecessor debuted, and it is finally an example of nostalgia done right. In a world full of tired reboots, this sequel manages to revive the magic of the original and bring in fresh faces without spoiling what has become revered as a near-perfect cult classic.
I recommend showing up on time, because “Double Tap” begins the gags right from the opening credits. In the decade since “Zombieland,” the gang has taken residence in the White House, which is evidently safe from zombies. But this domestic bliss is not to last. Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) begins to feel stifled by the overbearing Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and has an urge to leave the nest. Meanwhile, Wichita (Emma Stone) is alarmed by how serious her relationship with Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has become. When Little Rock runs off to find others her own age, the other three chase her in order to ensure her safety in a land filled with zombies.
Some critics complained that while “Zombieland” was original, “Double Tap” was exactly what audiences expected, but I think that is precisely the point. Neither of the films took themselves seriously at all, and that was the magic of them. “Double Tap” is aware it is an outdated sequel that’s come five years after the zombie craze, and it lampoons itself. It’s not attempting to be groundbreaking cinema. It merely exists to be 90 minutes of breathless escapism, and it serves its function well.
Director Ruben Fleischer brings a wry, witty self-awareness to the film, and makes delightful use of on-screen text and other gimmicks to bring on the laughs.
I will say that the exposition is a bit long - probably because it’s been 10 years since “Zombieland” premiered, and some of the audience will have inevitably not seen it. Once the ball gets rolling, the same chemistry that made the gang so compelling in the first place comes back, and not a second goes by without some wisecrack or riff between this odd, but endearing, cast of characters.
We are also presented with new characters, including a seemingly ditzy – but perhaps unintentionally brilliant – girl named Madison (Zoey Deutch), who Columbus found hiding in a mall fridge. Rosario Dawson also makes an appearance as a cast-iron fighter who has a love for … Elvis? More characters are introduced as well, but to describe them would be spoiler-inducing. Nonetheless, the new faces are a welcome addition and nobody feels expendable.
If you haven’t seen the first film, I wouldn’t sweat it – “Zombieland: Double Tap” is funny enough to stand on its own, even if it is somewhat forgettable. Make sure to stay for the end credits to see an outstanding cameo.