A Fun Gallagher Show of Gore
Our favorite doomsday survivors are back from 2009 to eviscerate the undead in the Zombieland sequel from Ruben Fleischer (Venom). After a decade of torso-‘sploding on the road, the gang decides to hole up in the White House, but not all is post-apocalyptic harmony as they have to decide what “home” means to each of them. Due warning: this review will spoil the movie plot like a bloated zombie corpse.
Wichita (Emma Stone) bolts from an unexpected proposal from Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), and a bored teenage Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) runs off with a hippie named Berkeley, headed to a skyscraper commune. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) expresses some weird fatherly possessive thing with Little Rock so they hit the road to find her, fighting faster, badder zombies and meeting a few extreme new characters along the way. Despite winking nods to the datedness of the first film (Wichita tells Tallahassee to “get a new line” when he delivers the same catchphrase), its more self-serious themes wear a little thin.
A lovelorn Columbus runs into an unlikably dippy sweatsuit named Madison (Zoey Deutch) in an abandoned mall, who survived by not having any brains to eat, or by living in a Pinkberry freezer? The movie is vague. She maintains an unironically perfect manicure and beach curls throughout the film and really, really wants to sleep with Columbus. Wichita just loves her! Madison’s witlessness includes dragging around lots of pink luggage she doesn’t need, calling Tallahassee “salty taffy,” and looking through binoculars backwards. She does, however, carry the funniest scene of the movie, when her road buddies misinterpret her severe allergic reaction to nuts as a zombie infection.
The guys meet their Zombieland doppelgangers at Elvis-themed hotel near Graceland, where several minutes are sunk into an excruciating scene about how two pairs of people share the same specific peccadilloes. Both versions of Tallahassee are sleeping with Nevada the motel owner (Rosario Dawson), so you’ll also be cringing through an extended metaphor about “sharing a driveway.”
The unsubtle generational/value conflict between Tallahassee and Little Rock comes to a head at the commune, as they come up with a progressively gun-free yet anticlimactic solution to a zombie herd. As the uber-undead sprint toward them from about a mile away, the gang apparently has time to construct an elaborate booby trap and train the hippies in phalanx battle. Columbus’ treacly “home is what you make of it, the real lesson is the friends we met along the way” voiceover at the end of the movie gives no thought to the growing horde of super zombies still encroaching on their home, whatever that ends up being. Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait ten more years to find out what happens next.
With a little suspension of disbelief and acknowledging the challenge of updating a franchise with a ten-year spread, viewers will get their fill of celebrity cameos, romantic drama, and creative zombie-squishing scenes courtesy of monster trucks, crop machines and falling toilets. And with the help of sequel ante-uppers like Worse Bad Guys and Crazier Characters, Zombieland manages to pull off a true double tap for fans.