There is a point in the film where Columbus(Jesse Eisenburg) asks Wichita (Emma Stone), ‘What do you want’, to which Emma replies, ‘To find my sister’.Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson)chimes in, this is going to be a long ride.
I can’t help but feel that this interaction represents the writer’s plea for help. As if while writing this film, Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and David Callaham, had to put in points where the characters could remind them and us, what they want and thus redirect the focus.
Zombieland: Double Tapis a self-aware, zombie apocalypse comedy that carries on with the survival adventure the first film embarked on. However, while it has all the things that were really enjoyable in the first film, such as the meta-commentary, the pop culture references, the criticism of zombie films and social cliques; the film lacks a coherent, focused narrative that can carry all these fun tropes and techniques. Imagine an old school naval ship carrying modern jets, it’s not up the task and no matter how cool the jets are, they are not gonna help keep the ship afloat.
This comes through in the jagged checkpoint style breakdown of the story, where the main characters try to track down Wichita’s sister, Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), and meet a series of interesting characters along the way, all of whom are only there to fulfill that said set piece, set up either jokes or plot point and die off. They don’t bring much more insight into the story.
For example, in the previous film, one of the key ideas explored is the introvert nerd who pines for his idealized version of love but instead of meeting the perfect girl, he meets Wichita, a bad-ass, self-serving, heroine who indirectly pushes him to grow. This film does not carry on from there but instead doubles down on Columbus’s worst trait and never even pushes him to grow past it. Thus at the end of the film, any conclusion presented, feels unearned.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the film is that the voice over does way too much exposition. The first 20 minutes, or at least what feels like 20 minutes, have Columbus’s VO guiding us through.
One can’t help but feel that the actors came on to do a silly, fun role, after having gone off to do serious films, and then were handed a script that would only work because of nostalgia, not because of its clever subversion or refreshing take on cliche themes.
I still sat through the film and I would be lying if I said that there were not some enjoyable moments but over all the film fails to live up to the bar set by its predecessor and instead only succeeds in being its mere shadow.