It's been ten years since Zombieland, the comedy that delightfully mocked Hollywood's living-dead genre, appeared in theatres. The 2009 film garnered impressive box-office returns and became a cult classic. Talk of a sequel followed, but for fans, it would prove to be a decade-long wait.
Zombieland: Double Tap keeps the same cast and format as the original film. Jesse Eisenberg is the nerdy Columbus, and he's still abiding by his rules for surviving the apocalypse (there are 73 rules). He's also still teamed up with father-figure Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), girlfriend Wichita (Emma Stone), and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) in the fight against the zombies.
Columbus and his crew have made it to a crumbling Washington DC. And after slaying a few zombies on the lawn of 1600 Pensylvania Avenue, the group take up residence in the abandoned White House. After a while of regally living it up, with all the comedic possibilities that offers, a rupture in the group occurs and Wichita and Little Rock leave, taking off in the president's limousine.
Soon Wichita finds herself abandoned - Little Rock leaves her to follow a hippy named Berkeley, who preaches peace and shuns the possession of firearms, not sensible behaviour in a zombie apocalypse. Returning to the White House, Wichita finds Columbus has moved on and shacked up with a ditzy blonde named Madison (Zoey Deutch). Eventually, everyone leaves the White House in search of Little Rock, who they fear will be an easy target for the hordes of undead roaming the country.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer, Zombieland: Double Tap sticks with many elements of the first film. Columbus' rules for survival still flash up on-screen and he remains the narrator, driving the story. The dynamics of the group's relationship also remains unchanged. Other bits have been tinkered with: Zombie Kill of the Week is now Zombie Kill of the Year and ludicrously over the top results follow.
So it's surprising that the film often falls flat. The jokes are unsubtle at best. There's little nuance, little chance of arriving anywhere unexpected. Instead, the punchlines arrive in a flurry, with the hope something sticks. The quick-fire banter between the original foursome gets stale and you see why they might want to go their separate ways. The funniest person in the film is Madison, the air-headed bimbo, who is so preposterous in her pink tracksuit that she outshines the original cast.
It's not that the original cast aren't trying, they just have little to work with. And while the jokes mostly miss, the cheerily loony plot ploughs ahead and will probably prove satisfying for fans. For the rest, double proves too much.