‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ limbers up properly, retaining the magic of the original

In the world of “Zombieland,” there are rules.

Things like “limbering up” or “enjoy the little things” are simplistic yet important when it comes to surviving a Zombie apocalypse. “Double Tap” is another one of those rules and also the name of the new sequel to the 2009 surprise hit that threw a wicked curveball at the then-tired genre, infusing the entertaining mayhem with a healthy dose of humor and pop culture references played off as oddball jokes.

If there’s a rule for sequels, it should be don’t forget about what made the first one great. In this case, it’s the laughs. Ruben Fleischer didn’t forget to retain the comedy in his follow-up, and that makes this a worthy addition and not a hapless throw-in (looking at you, scary Jolie).

It’s also great to see the gang back together, killing the undead while firing zingers at each other. The gung-ho Elvis/Dale Earnhardt loving Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson’s comeback role suits him perfectly); the nerdy Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, who probably will never age);  the sexy yet deadly Wichita (Emma Stone); and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin, who certainly does age, not in a bad way).

It’s the cast and their way of having fun with character interaction and relentless comedy that made the original such an easy going delight, and that doesn’t end here. There are a few new additions, like Rosario Dawson’s Nevada and Luke Wilson’s Albuquerque, but it’s the main four’s show and right for it.

The plot isn’t much different, other than the fact that Bill Murray’s mansion is replaced with The White House and the gang goes through the normal transitions of growing up and growing apart. There’s not a lot of new ingredients in this second dish, but the flavor is still there.

There’s a joy to seeing Harrelson cut loose an insult or do his best impression of Elvis’ voice and dance. If there was a role that this seasoned and versatile actor had to play, it’s Tallahassee. There’s so much to love about this unhinged yet heartfelt rebel, and trust me, Harrelson finds every spice in the pantry.

He can play cold-blooded killers in “Out of the Furnace,” a reliable detective in “True Detective,” a legendary porn magazine mogul, and a crazy-ish killer in a zombie comedy. You must appreciate some Woody before you sleep on movies. He’s like a piece of dark chocolate: deny that you want it until the the sun goes down, but know you are full of it.

The rest of the cast plays their roles effectively, but once again, Harrelson owns it.

The final third of the film does bog down into a predictable shoot-em-up survival of the fittest and fastest fest, but the majority of this film is well made and does the job. Every movie doesn’t have to be a mind-blowing art show; just show up, satisfy the soul, meet the expectations, and maybe leave us wanting more of it later.

Zombieland: Double Tap isn’t perfect and doesn’t have all the potent aura of the original, but it’s a very funny and likable sequel.

If life is beating you down, take 99 minutes and choose this ride. Just remember: limber up and enjoy the little things, like a comedy that is actually funny.

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