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‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ – a disappointing sequel of original ‘Zombieland’ movie

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By Eleanor Ringel Cater

“Zombieland: Double Tap” is all tapped out.

The first “Zombieland,” released in 2009, was funny, original and unexpected. And it had Bill Murray. (So does the sequel, but in a bedraggled post-credits sequence that sets zombies loose at a junket for “Garfield 3.”)

A scene from “Zombieland: Double Tap”

Ten years later, the zombies are still on the loose and our protagonists have settled into the White House. They’ve created a surrogate family of sorts: patriarch Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), lovey-dovey couple Columbus and Wichita (Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone) and rebellious youngster Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) who’s sick of being treated like a baby and wants to find someone her own age to hang with.

After a spat with Columbus, Wichita takes off, taking Little Rock with her. Then they split up, with Wichita returning “home” and Little Rock heading off with a movie-hippie cliché named, of course, Berkeley (Avan Jogia).  So now everyone else must go find her.

They’re joined by an air-headed blonde, Madison (Zoey Deutch), in a pink parka and Uggs, who’s been hiding out in a mall. And that’s when “Double Tap” goes from disappointing to unbearable.

You want to know what #MeToo has changed in Hollywood?

Zilch. At least not in terms of nauseating stereotypes.

And unfortunately, a lot of the film writing community is blandly supportive. For example, the New York Times review praises Deutch for bringing “remarkable energy and wit to a dreary stereotype.”

Somehow, I can’t see A. O. Scott writing the same thing about a Stepin Fetchit character. Sexism may be increasingly unacceptable. But compared to the raised consciousness that attends issues like race and the LGBTQ movement, it’s still in its infancy.

“Zombieland: Double Tap” movie poster

There are some funny lines and a smattering of semi-clever plot twists. But mostly, the movie is stale and sloppy. There’s even a doppelganger bit that dates as far back as Edgar Allen Poe, but mostly steals from a famous episode of “Seinfeld.”

The script, which must’ve taken at least two hours to pull together, is divided into dreary sections: the faux family jokes to catch us up on what everyone’s been doing for the last decade, the Dumb Blonde jokes occasioned by the arrival of Madison, the Elvis jokes when they stop by the Hound Dog Hotel – run by Rosario Dawson and a chaotic zombie mash-up finale that suggests the last 15 minutes of any number of half-assed comedies from the mid-‘80s.

The original “Zombieland” knew what it was doing. The sequel only knows there may be more money to be made off fond memories and a likable (for the most part) cast. One’s a movie; the other is a garage sale of stuff that’s been sitting around too long in someone’s script drawer. You know, even snark – or should that be especially snark – has an expiration date.

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Eleanor Ringel

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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