First, I have to come clean: I did not see the first Zombieland. However, I feel confident that I was still able to follow the sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap. Maybe I missed some throwback jokes, but overall, I got it. This film stars Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin living in a world where zombies are everywhere and must be destroyed. Think The Walking Dead, but a comedy. When we meet these four, they are living in the White House and trying to navigate an isolated life and relationships there. This film was entertaining and fun at times, but not very evolved.
(Minor spoilers ahead.)
As you can see from the list of lead actors, the cast is very white. However, there are two female leads. One is Emma Stone’s character, Wichita. Wichita is a cold feminist who ascribes to the mantra of “never get attached”. She is tough and cool, but falls into the feminist trope of an icy man-hater who is afraid to love.
Since Abigail Breslin’s character, Little Rock, is missing for a lot of the film, the only other female character is Madison played by Zoey Deutch. Madison is a pink clad, dumb blonde. Her character description would be: dumb, blonde and horny. Not the most well-rounded or original character.
Rosario Dawson as Nevada is introduced and…hooray, it’s a woman of color! She is the love interest of Woody Harrelson’s character, Tallahassee. Keep in mind, Harrelson is 58 and Dawson is 40, which is a typical movie casting. I do think Harrelson is attractive and all, and understand that the options are limited during this zombie apocalypse, but I wish they would have cast perhaps a more age-appropriate love interest. Nevada does save the group at one point, which is great. She is tough and independent, but not fully developed. Yet, I would not consider any of the characters to be fully developed (perhaps this was covered in the first movie).
The general impression of the female characters is not the best.
Other new characters are introduced in this film. As mentioned earlier, Nevada is a woman of color, which is redeeming. Besides her, “Berkeley” is a new character introduction. He is played by an Indian actor named Avan Jogia. His only dialogue for the first half of the move is greeting the ladies with “Namaste”…and he doesn’t say much else. He sings a bit, but is just a hippie caricature. He is a pothead, and described as a “pacifist like Ghandi.” Not the least stereotypical character I have seen.
The only other new characters are played by Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch, who are playing doppelgangers of Tallahassee and Columbus. This is solely for the sake of comedy, and they are only in the film for a few minutes. It is interesting that there are character copies made of the two white male leads, and no one else — even though Wichita is with them for this scene and part of the original group.
I really like Woody Harrelson as an actor and activist. However, I saw many problems with the Tallahassee character. He is a gun-loving cowboy and slight maniac. Tallahassee opens up to Columbus that he has some Native American blood in him — Blackfoot to be exact. He goes on to say that “his people” listened to “the call of the buffalo” and roamed freely, which is his plan going forward. In another scene, he refers to someone as “pale-face”. It is uncomfortable and not at all funny. To be clear, the Blackfoot stuff was set up to make fun of Woody Harrelson’s character — he was obviously not part Native American and everyone was in on the joke but him. So it wasn’t quite race bending, but close enough to that to be uncomfortable. I think the point was to make fun of Woody’s character, not to pass him as anything but a dumb white guy.
The best way to describe this film is…cute. It was visually interesting due to the graphics and cinematography, but did not have much else going for it. The new characters, some of which were the only diverse people in the whole movie, were underdeveloped or just silly. Zombieland: Double Tap has a lot of potential to be a cheeky, zombie comedy, but fell short.
Incluvie Score: Dawson’s character was cool, but there was a lack of any other proper representation
General Score: Some exciting scenes, and the film was visually attractive. Overall: meh.
Written by Sarah Erskine