Some sequels are known to fail, but ‘Zombieland 2’ surpasses expectations

Ten years ago, “Zombieland” hit theaters and quickly racked up the box office accolades with its wise cracking, in-your-face comedy and the cast’s dysfunctional family dynamic. A decade later, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and crew remain the simple zombie killing machines that just want to enjoy the little things.

Director Ruben Fleischer knew the appeal of the original film and stayed true to its nature: a gory, comedic twist on the zombie genre that never took itself too seriously. In an odd way, “Zombieland 2: Double Tap” feels like it takes you back to 2009 – a welcome feeling for anyone who wants to reminisce on simpler times. A world in which history splits off from reality 10 years ago allows for a step away from current tensions with a few light riffs on modern culture sprinkled in. 

The original cast of Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg (Columbus), Emma Stone (Wichita) and Abigail Breslin (Little Rock) burst back onto the big screen with action and gore galore. The eccentric little group walks into some family drama this time around when Columbus proposal scares off Wichita, along with a little help from Tallahassee’s overbearing parenting of now much older Little Rock. When Wichita returns, Little Rock has taken off with a pacifist musician who refuses to kill zombies. So, their chase to find and protect Little Rock begins, opening up the scene for some hilarious new appearances, from the likes of Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch, Rosario Dawson and Zoey Deutch.   

Deutch receives the most screen time of the newcomers as Madison, the airhead valley girl who nobody needed but everyone will thoroughly enjoy. Her lovable idiocy adds a playful wrinkle to the otherwise moody, sarcastic crew. For example, she has a brilliant idea she pitches to create a service where strangers drive around other strangers in place of taxis, which everyone else scoffs at as an excellent way to get murdered (Uber was founded in 2009 right when their world ended). Her role seamlessly blends into the in-your-face comedy that drew so many to the first movie and continues in this sequel.

The pair of Wilson (Albuquerque) and Middleditch (Flagstaff) create an unexpected but familiar duo of their own. One where the tough-hided Albuquerque enjoys every second of mowing down zombies with his fidgety, commandment-driven wingman Flagstaff. The similarities are obvious to everyone but the two duos themselves, who can’t decide whether they like or hate one another. Then Dawson enters the film with a cool-headed swagger that cannot help but attract the likes of Tallahassee.

The film set low expectations to begin with and easily surpassed them. Reminding viewers why they liked a Twinkie-loving gun nut, an overly cautious rule junkie and two cunning con-artists in the first place. If you are looking for witty, snarky humor, then you may be at a loss with this production. However, the director and cast gracefully perform to their humorous strengths in a way that never seemed to try too hard. The movie is pointed and simple, created without any deep metaphors for human greed or exposing the bloodlust of other countries. If you enjoy sitting back without having to contemplate the meaning of life while watching a movie, as I often do, then “Zombieland 2” is just what the doctor ordered. 

They didn’t change too much but made enough tweaks to keep the story interesting. The conflicts between characters were believable without being so heavy that they retract from the comedy. Most importantly, there was an end goal, but the journey proved to be every bit as compelling. Add in some Elvis Presley, car troubles and some good old hippie positivity and you’ve got a worthy sequel to an iconic zombie movie.

Go see this film with the expectation of some good laughs from some inherently meta commentary and a few heartwarming moments sprinkled in. When you do see the movie, make sure to stick around after the credits for a couple surprise scenes. One, including a reappearance of beloved comedy legend Bill Murray.