October movies 9/25

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) tries to escape from some zombies in "Zombieland" (2009).

It’s been 10 years since the events, and release, of the hilarious zom-com “Zombieland.”

The makeshift family of Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are living it up at the White House until a yearning for friends her own age and a change of pace causes Little Rock to leave the nest. The rest of the gang then packs up and drives across the country searching for her.

The plot itself is pretty bare, but that is also a criticism that holds for the first film. The plot in the sequel is mostly a vehicle for some comedic side characters and nostalgic callbacks to the high points of the first film, such as zombie kill of the week and the girl in Room 406.

The cast of side characters provides the bulk of the comedic relief, especially Madison (Zoey Deutch). She plays the dumb blonde archetype to perfection without being overused. Besides being an enjoyable character, she also kickstarts the subplot of Columbus and Wichita’s relationship, forcing both of them to reevaluate what kind of companionship they want from each other, which concludes with more of a “meh” contentment than a victorious satisfaction.

Besides Madison, the side characters were hit or miss, with Berkeley (Avan Jogia) lacking any depth beyond his guitar and Nevada (Rosario Dawson) being a one-note romantic interest for Tallahassee and a deus ex machina in the climax.

However, Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch) make for the best section of the movie, when they arrive as carbon copies of the two leading men and satirize some overdone stereotypes in zombie movies.

Despite their characters being minor in the movie, they also have the best action scene in the film: a one-take fight scene with their counterparts spanning every room of the Hound Dog Hotel, reminiscent of the hot potato scene in “Game Night.”

 Other than the side characters, the comedy is generally solid, although not every joke lands, especially since some of the better scenes were shown in the trailer. One of the best comedic bits was the safe haven that Little Rock and Berkeley end up at, Babylon, a peace-loving community with a ban on all weapons. Babylon’s parodic hippie aesthetic, although being a somewhat cheap way to manufacture tension in the climax, humorously contrasted with the gang and their more violent nature, especially Tallahassee.

This community made for a great climactic battle but also tread some old ground from the first film in multiple ways, with the nostalgia not paying off as much as it was intended to. The slow-motion zombie killing, the group of survivors surrounded on all sides by the undead and the one-liners amidst sprays of blood are not as fresh as they were in 2009.

Overall, “Zombieland: Double Tap” was a solid sequel that had some great laughs but didn’t have the originality its predecessor did. It’s a rung above sequels to other comedy classics, more in line with “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” than “Dumb and Dumber To.” While it’s not anything new, which Columbus points out in the opening credits, it has more to give than most comedy sequels and by-the-book zombie movies.

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