In 2009, the tale of zombie hunters Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock dazzled critics and audiences alike with its sharp wit, stellar cast, and sense of glee. Now, 10 years later, Zombieland: Double Tap is in theaters, and threatens to offer just as much wicked popcorn entertainment as it did before the entire cast became Academy Award nominees.
The film is a nostalgic blast from a simpler past, before zombies became old-hat, and it does a respectable job at keeping the free, fun tone from the original as well as adding some fantastic jokes of its own.
(Spoilers ahead for Zombieland: Double Tap)
10 The Bill Murray Interview
While Bill Murray’s place in the sequel is no match for his revelatory role in the original, the post-credits scene of Double Tap does bring Bill back for an interview set in 2009 on the day the apocalypse broke out. Promoting a third Garfield film, capitalizing on one of the funniest lines from the original, Murray is chewing the scenery as a lethargic, angry version of himself, that completely fits when he is allowed to casually take out swarms of zombie interviewers that come towards him.
9 Tallahassee vs. the Minivan
Tallahassee doesn’t like vans, that much was made clear in the first film, so the natural progression is to put this red-blooded American in one of America’s most sensible automobiles for the duration of the sequel. Constantly complaining, Tallahassee is tempted with the carrot on a stick of his personal vehicle (which is destroyed), and a monster truck (which he cannot drive), before the frustration gets the better of him and he tosses a grenade into it and watches it burn.
For as much as the man loves Twinkies, Elvis, and his own penchant for carnage, he hates many things as much, if not more. Clearly, minivans are one of those things.
8 The Monster Truck
Setup, and payoff. It’s so simple, but when a comedy, especially a big studio comedy, pulls it off, it’s just so delightful. New characters Albuquerque and Flagstaff come into the film on this hulking monster truck, crushing Tallahassee’s prized car in the process. It’s a fun visual metaphor, but once the gang goes on their way, so does the monster truck. And then, at the ‘all is lost’ point, in comes Nevada, Tallahassee’s new love interest, jumping a fence in this 12-foot-tall behemoth, crushing everything in its wake. The question isn’t if they’ll be saved, but what will save them, and this was the best, and funniest, possible option.
7 Woody Harrelson’s “Burning Love”
Another fantastic moment in the film’s credits come more subtly, and if you’re in the habit of tuning out end-credits songs, you’ll miss it. Where the original film led with Tallahassee’s obsession with Twinkies, the sequel relies on his love of Elvis Presley, and countless references to The King and Graceland pepper the film. Which makes it all the better when, as the credits roll, the audience is treated to a full rendition of Elvis’ “Burning Love”, sung entirely by Woody Harrelson in character. It’s absolutely joyful, and far better than it has any right to be.
6 “Everyone knows who Bob Dylan is”
Throughout the film, Little Rock’s hippie boyfriend Berkeley sings songs for her that he passes off as his own, and she gives back a simple starry-eyed smile. It’s the one character trait of Berkeley that puts the audience squarely on Tallahassee’s side that he’s a grifting punk not worthy of Little Rock.
And then, near the end of the film, Little Rock lets the façade drop and she calls him out, saying that even though her knowledge of music is limited as she grew up in the zombie apocalypse, “everyone knows who Bob Dylan is”. It’s simple, satisfying, and quite funny to see the slack-jawed expression on Berkeley’s face.
5 Zombie Kill of the Year
A guy topples the Leaning Tower of Pisa onto a group of zombies, crushing them under one of the most notable landmarks in the history of civilization. If that’s not beautiful, then nothing is. And if that’s not Zombie Kill of the Year, then that means somebody had to have dropped a pyramid onto the undead, or something else of that giant magnitude.
4 Zombified Albuquerque and Flagstaff
For as funny as Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch’s performances are as mirrored versions of Tallahassee and Columbus, some of the best jokes in the segment come after the two, in a misguided display of heroics, get bit and become zombies themselves. Calling back to various zombie kills from the first, the fight is the sloppiest and tensest in the two films, with numerous close-calls and tension relieving jokes, only for the nerves to ratchet up again instantly. It’s the best kind of scene, funny, thrilling, and honestly a little sad, which makes the comedy only hit harder.
It doesn’t matter how Nevada would have learned that Bill Murray was shot by someone who mistook him for a zombie, but somehow, the information that Columbus mistakenly shot one of America’s greatest funnymen in 2009 got to her.
So, when in front of the nervous Columbus, she jokingly talks about how she almost “Murrayed” him, and would happily take out which fool actually pulled the trigger on Ol’ Bill if she found them. All Columbus can do is laugh, and swallow the knowledge that he was that very fool.
2 Rules vs. Commandments
Another moment from the Albuquerque/Flagstaff detour, where Flagstaff and Columbus trade the latter’s famous rules for the former’s set of commandments, comes to mind when thinking about the film. Seeing Jesse Eisenberg and Thomas Middleditch, two of the cleverest and most nebbish performers working, trying to one-up each other in a game of ‘who can be the most paranoid and careful’ is hysterical. It’s a shame that within five minutes of this, Flagstaff is trying to eat Columbus. That does put a damper on most fun rivalries.
1 Madison’s Return
For as lovely as the entire cast of Double Tap is, the show-stealer is easily Zoey Deutch, whose portrayal of naïve, enthusiastic Madison takes the film and runs away with it for the few minutes she’s on screen before she seemingly finds herself victim to the virus and is put out of her misery. However, as the film progresses, and Columbus and Wichita’s relationship is mended, Madison returns, in all her hot pink glory, having not been infected, and just suffering an allergic reaction to nuts. Having her in the third act is wonderful, giving more time to a character that contrasts with all four leads beautifully, all without even realizing what she’s doing. The character, and the performance, is the highlight of the film, and having her come back in such a fantastically dumb way is one of the film’s best decisions.