A Brief History
On October 18, 2019, movie audiences across the United States get what they have been waiting 10 YEARS for, the sequel to Zombieland! Before we get into reviewing this film, let us preface our comments by saying that this reviewer originally believed Shaun of the Dead (2004) was the greatest zombie movie of all time, that is, at least until Zombieland came out in 2009. Since both films are comedy oriented zombie movies, you can see where we are going with this. We like funny zombie films, and it seems many of you do as well because these are hugely popular movies.
Getting back to the subject film, Double Tap miraculously uses the same actors from the first film to portray the same characters 10 years later. Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin reprise their roles in an absolutely masterful way. Only this time the unity of our group of zombie blasting amigos starts fraying at the edges a little, perhaps leading to a break up of the core heroes. (We do not provide spoilers, so watch the film and see how this dynamic plays out.) Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson (not the NFL player!), and Zoey Deutch add star power and a wonderful expansion of the group dynamic. (Did we mention Zoey Deutch is ADORABLE?) The writers have hilarious films such as Zombieland and Deadpool on their resumes, so the one liners, zingers, and set-ups come from minds that know comedy. Director Reuben Fleischer also directed the original Zombieland film, so there is plenty of continuity at work here. Even the un-dead are funny, with the stupid, slow ones dubbed “Homers” (ala Homer Simpson) and the newly evolved fast and smart ones called “Hawkings” (ala Stephen Hawking). Oh, those “super-zombies” are also compared to the Terminators from the movies in that franchise.
Without getting into too much detail (aka spoilers), we can give you a peek into the plot by telling you there is an extended scene where some main characters meet their virtual doppelgangers, and the interaction between the new and old characters is a scream. (Luke Wilson is so funny!) Another main mechanism used in the movie is the breaking of the 4th wall, with comments made directly to the audience in a narrative type way that works quite well. On screen word and phrases graphics also add immensely to the feel of the film and give it the character desired by the writers and director. Visuals, unlike many zombie oriented films, are nice and clear and bright, with great make-up and effects. Lots of nice, bright color. (We like that!) Double Tap continues the use of “rules” as a central theme, and the characters are named after the cities they hail from instead of using their given names. Good thing no characters are from Schenectady, New York or International Falls, Minnesota. (Or Yonkers, Intercourse, Ashtabula, or Truth or Consequences, etc.)
Double Tap is rated “R,” not because of nudity and sex, but probably because of the mass amount of killing that takes place, although most of the “kills” are of people that are already “dead.” One aspect the film makers do not shy away from is vomit, and we normally abhor graphic scenes of launching the “Technicolor Rainbow,” but in this particular movie the act of upchucking is kind of an essential element of the storyline, so puking is more or less necessary. We begrudgingly accept what we normally find unacceptable… There is indeed a sexual aspect to the film, but in a comedic way and not graphic. We think tweens and young teens should have no problem with seeing the movie at all, and we would have rated it a more family friendly “PG.” As you might expect in an apocalyptic scenario, language is not particularly prim and proper.
Another character development aspect introduced in Double Tap is the Woody Harrelson character, Tallahassee, claims to have Native American “blood flowing through my body.” He claims Blackfoot heritage and his relating of how the pre-European invasion Native Americans hunted buffalo becomes germane to the plot later in the film. Did we mention the Zoey Deutch character, Madison, is adorable? (Yes we did, and we do not apologize!) This lovely young lady is perfect as the iconic “dumb blonde,” although her character is also pretty adept at surviving under trying circumstances. Maybe not so dumb after all…
One more aspect of Double Tap for us to examine is the more serious issue of firearms. While we do not seriously expect a zombie-apocalypse to engulf us any time soon, the possibility of natural disasters or man-made catastrophe is always a (hopefully a remote) possibility. In such a scenario, guns and ammo will be what keeps you alive. Double Tap shows what happens when a society willingly disarms, and then is in dire need of self-defense. Spoiler alert: Guns to the rescue. Yeah, the movie is a fictional comedy, but like nearly all films, there is a certain amount of social commentary woven into the script, and the “lesson” implied is “don’t give up your guns.” If you can believe it, given the popularity of zombie movies, Hornady, a major American ammunition maker, used to offer their Zombie Max line of ammo specifically for killing zombies! (While no longer in production, we got our box before it was too late!) When you are attacked by the flesh eating un-dead, do you want to grab a mop from the closet or a 12 gauge?
The first Zombieland movie got a great Rotten Tomatoes score of 90% from critics and 86% from audiences, and pulled in more than 4 times its budget at the box office. The sequel, Zombieland Double Tap, should do even better, with a budget of $42 million and already (!) a box office of nearly $300 million just from early releases. Wow! We are not surprised, as the fast moving 93 minute film kept our eyes glued to the screen for virtually every minute. Rotten Tomatoes reports an audience approval rating (so far) of 88%, even higher than the original film. We are definitely in the majority group that loved the movie and we believe you will, too. Do not be afraid to take your kids, except for particularly sensitive children that might think zombies are real. Just be sure to stay for the credits! Not only are you treated to a special guest appearance, you will be serenaded by Woody Harrelson doing a fine job on an Elvis Presley hit song.
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For more information, please see…
Kay, Glenn. Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Chicago Review Press, 2012.
Miller, Cynthia (editor). The Laughing Dead: The Horror-Comedy Film from Bride of Frankenstein to Zombieland. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016.
The featured image in this article, a scaled-down, low-resolution image of a poster for the film Zombieland: Double Tap, is used in an article that provides critical commentary on the film in question on a website intended for educational purposes per fair use under the copyright law of the United States.