Zombieland: Double Tap ★★★

ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP is the surprising ten years later sequel in that it mostly retains much of the charm of the original, the cast seems to have remembered the roles they played a decade prior, and the writing is in line with the quality of its predecessor. This is not to say that the first installment is perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it was light, entertaining, and surprisingly inventive during a time period where the zombie as an entity was already growing tiresome but showing an immense popularity (something that is briefly mentioned during a fourth wall breaking opening monologue). Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abagail Breslin all seem committed to returning to their parts (though the latter is separated from the rest of the group for the bulk of the running time), and there is a pleasure to be had in watching them return to roles that some have arguably become typecast from (especially Eisenberg who seems to be taking himself a bit less seriously than in some more recent performances). The film nicely expands on the mythology of the first without expanding its scope outside of manageability, nor does it fill in any of the gaps that were purposefully included in the original, mirroring the guard that these characters all have despite being together and traveling as a group for so many years. And new additions like Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch, and, especially, Zoey Deutch, are all welcoming presences that just elevate the chemistry of the core four. It is a surprisingly enjoyable sequel that arguably does play it a bit safe (and maybe with one too many "cute" additions that explicitly address the passage of time, both on screen and of), but maybe that is not such a bad approach to returning to a property that may have run its course a decade ago.