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Zombieland: Double Tap is bloody good fun carried by a strong cast

None of this reinvents the wheel, but it remains bloody good fun throughout, mostly on the strength of its cast and the easy camaraderie between them.
None of this reinvents the wheel, but it remains bloody good fun throughout, mostly on the strength of its cast and the easy camaraderie between them.

If you liked 2009’s Zombieland, the sequel forecast this weekend is good. Double Tap features the same director, the same principal cast, and the original’s mix of clever sitcom timing and blood-splatter effects. In short, it’s that rare film with both brains and braaains.

Just as in the real world, 10 years have passed since the zombie apocalypse, but without all the amazing advances in technology and politics. So our heroes still think of Barack Obama as their president when they take over the White House as their own official residence. And for better or worse, they have never heard of Uber, Tinder, Siri or Alexa.

Zombie nomenclature has marched forward, however. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) refers to Homers (the dumb ones), Hawkings (the smart ones), Ninjas (the silent ones) and a new breed that is faster, smarter and harder to take down – they either go by the sobriquet Bolt (as in Usain) or T-800, as in Terminators; also returning to theatres this November!

With a subtext about yearning for home and family that is almost 20th-century in its heartfelt quaintness, Double Tap finds female survivors Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Wichita (Emma Stone) leaving the menfolk behind as they take to the open road in search of more survivors.

This upsets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), who sees himself as a father figure to Little Rock. It also disconcerts Columbus, since he and Wichita have been sleeping together in the Lincoln bedroom, and he just proposed to her with the Hope Diamond – or as he modestly says of the rock, “I hope it is.”

Dejected at being rejected, Columbus visits a ruined mall, where the Gap is full of gaps and the Forever 21 is forever abandoned. Here he happens upon the film’s major new character, played to hair-twirling, sexy-baby-voice perfection by Zoey Deutch. She introduces herself as Madison, although whether she’s following the movie’s rule of “your name is the city you come from” or “your name is your favourite mid-’80s mermaid” or even “your name is the first Manhattan Avenue you can think of” is never clear. What’s incontrovertible is that she is a hilarious addition to the cast.

Deutch is a hilarious addition to the cast

Also new is Rosario Dawson as Nevada – she doesn’t want to get more specific than that – an Elvis-obsessed survivor who runs a neon-lit shrine/hotel in the badlands near Graceland. (In the “just because” department, we’re told that hydro-electricity continues to function without maintenance; it’s a zombie movie, folks, not a documentary.)

What’s old is the nutty banter among the cast, Columbus’s penchant for rules of survival (often helpfully spelled out on screen) and Tallahassee’s inventive cursing and machismo. In fact, Double Tap hits the sequel sweet spot of “more of the same, but not exactly the same.” It even has a fitting tribute to Bill Murray’s cameo in the original.

None of this reinvents the wheel, but it remains bloody good fun throughout, mostly on the strength of its cast and the easy camaraderie between them. A decade later and back from the dead after an aborted TV spinoff, the series staggers along just about perfectly.

4 stars

Zombieland: Double Tap opens across Canada on Oct. 18.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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