T he Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, watch some of the hilarious outtakes from the horror comedy sequel Zombieland: Double Tap. Plus, spend some time getting to know Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman, the new featured players of Saturday Night Live, and listen as Nick Kroll breaks down some of the voices he’s best known for creating.
First up, watch as Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin have some trouble keeping a straight face during various flubbed scenes from Zombieland: Double Tap. Props don’t work, lines get forgotten, and more, but the best part is when Woody Harrelson improvises a little bit with Luke Wilson, and the two almost but can’t keep it together.
Next up, Saturday Night Live properly introduces us to their two new featured players though there were almost three, Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman. Find out what some of their favorite SNL sketches are, hear their advice for anyone who might want to follow in their footsteps and find out what they think about astrology and more.
Nick Kroll has been in the comedy game for a long time, but in recent years, he’s become a little more famous for his work in the sound booth by providing voices for animated characters. For Vanity Fair, Kroll breaks down the characters he plays in the Netflix seriesBig Mouth, the Illumination Entertainment movie Sing, the raunchy comedySausage Party, and as an extra, his character from Oh, Hello, which originated alongside John Mulaney on Kroll Show.
It was a big weekend for sequels, with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil coming in first place. Joker slid into second place, with Zombieland: Double Tap doing better than expected in third. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was actually a bit soft in its opening, only pulling in $36 million. A couple of indie movies also did well this weekend, with Neon's Parasite, A24's The Lighthouse and Fox Searchlight's Jojo Rabbit all arriving with a strong debut in limited release.
Disney was expecting a little more from their Maleficent sequel at the box office this weekend. The domestic total arrives at nearly half of what the original made in 2014, debuting at $69.4 million. Those who did watch the sequel apparently enjoyed Angelina Jolie's return as the Dark Fey. Audiences have given the movie an 'A' CinemaScore. It also has a 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opened simultaneous in all major markets overseas. There it earned an extra $117 million, which makes its global tally $153 million, so you can pretty much call it a hit out of the gate, despite fewer people opting to see it in the states. Chinese audiences spent $22.4 million on tickets this weekend. Russia paid $10.7 million, Mexico pulled in $7.8 million, with Italy at $4.7 million, Korea at $4.6 million, Brazil at $4.5 million, UK nabbing $4.3 million, France with $3.9 million, Thailand at $3.7 million, Philippines with $3.5 million, Germany at $3.4 million and Spain bring up the rear with $3.2 million.
Related: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Trailer Has Angelina Jolie & Michelle Pfeiffer at War
Joker continues to be a big blockbuster hit, and is well on its way to becoming the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. In its third weekend of release, it only saw an audience dip of 48%. It has earned an additional $29.2 million in the states. That puts its total at $247 million. Overseas, it pulled in an additional $77.8 million, and now sits at $737.5 million worldwide. Not bad for a standalone DC Comics movie about a villain descending into madness with no superheroes in sight.
Ten years in the making, the sequel Zombieland Double Tap lands in third place with a higher than expected take of $26.7 million over the three day weekend. It arrives with bigger debut numbers than the original, which pulled in $24.7 way back in 2009. This latest adventure with Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock earned a 'B+' CinemaScore. The zombie-infested follow-up is playing in 17 overseas markets, where it pulled in an additional $5 million.
The Addams Family animated comedy comes in at number four in its second weekend at the box office, earning an additional $16.05 million. That puts its domestic total at $56.8 million over the course of ten days. Rounding out the top five is Gemini Man, which fell off -59% in its second weekend of release. It nabbed just $8.5 million, working off a staggering $138 million budget. We may have to chalk this one up as a bomb. It has only made $36.5 million in the states thus far. Overseas, the movie fared better with $33.4 million, with $21 million of that coming from opening day in China. The movie has made $118.7 million worldwide.
Rounding out the top five is Paramount's Gemini Man dipping -59% as it kicks off its sophomore frame with an estimated $8.5 million for a domestic cume that now stands at $36.5 million. Internationally, the film brought in an estimated $33.4 million this weekend, the bulk of which comes from a $21 million opening in China. The film's overseas cume now stands at $82.2 million for a global total reaching $118.7 million.
Abominable is in sixth place with $3.5 million in its 4th weekend of release, its domestic total standing at $53.9 million. Downton Abbey lands at number 7 with another $3.08 million, becoming Focus Feature's highest grossing movie ever. The movie has earned $88.6 million total domestically. Judy slides into the 8th spot with another $2.05 million for a domestic total of $19 million thus far. In at number 9 is Hustlers with $2.05 million as well. It's a certified hit with $101.8 million. And in at number 10 is horror blockbuster IT: Chapter Two with an additional $1.5 million added to its domestic total of $209 million.
Parasite arrives just outside the top ten, earning $1.2 million in just 33 theaters. A24's The Lighthouse also had a strong showing playing at just 8 locations, earning $419,764. It will go wider next weekend, arriving in 500 theaters. And then we have Jojo Rabbit, the movie about a boy and his imaginary friend Hitler. It played in just five locations with earnings of $350,000. These numbers come in from Box Office Mojo.
1 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil2Joker3 Zombieland Double Tap4The Addams Family5Gemini Man6Abominable7Downton Abbey8Judy9Hustlers10IT Chapter Two
[Editor's note: The following post contains spoilers for “Zombieland: Double Tap.”]
Halfway through Ruben Fleischer’s long-awaited “Zombieland” sequel, “Zombieland: Double Tap,” the seemingly inevitable happens: someone mentions Bill Murray. It’s not a happy memory for anyone involved. In the original 2009 film, the beloved comedian played himself in an amusing cameo, welcoming the film’s core four Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin into his Hollywood mansion after a long journey. Murray again, as himself has survived the zombie plague by utilizing his acting talents for a fresh role: he pretends to be a zombie, all the better to keep the brain-gobblers confused. It’s a classic zombie movie trick, but one thrown into total disarray when Eisenberg’s notoriously jumpy Columbus is spooked by a costumed Murray, who amiably waddles into his swanky screening room to surprise Columbus and Breslin’s Little Rock.
Columbus shoots him dead, thus knocking off one more red-blooded human and a Hollywood legend to boot. It’s one of the best gags of the film, an instant classic that inevitably led to plenty of chatter about Murray’s possible return for the long-gestating sequel. Could Murray finally be a real zombie?
He’s not, but he is something of a looming specter in “Double Tap.” When the gang meets up with Rosario Dawson’s character first known simply as Nevada, because she’s not giving anyone more details about her life other than her home state, she jokes that she nearly “Murray-ed” Columbus, almost shooting him when he appears in her Elvis-themed Hound Dog Hotel, and she mistakes him for a zombie. Columbus, understandably, is a little put-out by the use of the term — to kill a human you mistakingly believe to be a “z” — and tries to play it cool when feisty Nevada makes it clear she’d happily kill the guy who offed Murray. Columbus, of course, is only barely able to hide that he’s the bad guy, a winking in-joke for the audience.
And, still, Murray doesn’t appear — until the film’s single post-credits scene, introduced by way of one of Eisenberg’s signature self-reflexive voiceovers, where Columbus explains to the audience that really, there was no way they could make another “Zombieland” without Murray. Presumably hamstrung by the lack of emotional pop Murray-as-a-zombie could deliver after all this time — we know what he’s like as a fake zombie, and it’s good! — Fleischer and screenwriters Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Dave Callaham opt for a smart twist on the now-standard post-credits scene, using it as a prologue to their story, one centered on Murray himself.
Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray in “Zombieland”
It’s Day Zero of the zombie apocalypse, and Murray is spending his day the way so many big stars do: at a press junket for his latest film. In the real, non-“Zombieland” world, Murray only starred in a pair of animated Garfield films Murray has, quite amusingly, claimed that he only did the films because he thought the screenwriter Joel Cohen was Joel Coen. But in “Double Tap,” he’s completed a third go-round as the lasagna-loving housecat this one: “Garfield 3: Flabby Tabby” and now he’s expected to chat about it with the press. In true Murray style, he’s not very into it. And that’s before everyone starts asking him to pretend to hack up a Garfield hairball.
Set at random hotel as so many junkets typically are, the post-credits scene follows both a downtrodden Murray and a group of reporters including recognizable talking heads like NBC’s Al Roker and MTV’s Josh Horowitz as they cycle through five-minute video interviews, all of which inevitably end in a request for Murray to imitate a cat vomiting up some of his fur. The glamour of Hollywood!
As Murray is hacking away, a game Roker joins him, but at some point during the horrifying hack-a-thon, Roker’s choking turns real. And then Roker himself turns into a zombie. While he might not be the patient zero, he’s the starting point for a massive outbreak during the “Garfield 3” junket, and as the rest of the press clan and video village turns into vomiting, screaming, brain-hungry monsters, it’s Murray who makes it his business to kill anyone who comes across his path. And, yes, that includes Roker and Horowitz, along with plenty of other junket-goers milling around the event.
From plates to giant silver platters, Murray fights his way through the horde, upping the film’s already quite high zombie body count, never stopping to question just what the hell is going on. It’s easy to see why he survived so long, at least until itchy-fingered Columbus got to him. His best weapon? A large, hard-backed poster of “Garfield 3,” the fake film finally proving useful to someone.
And, yes, it ends as only a Garfield-centric gag could, with a deadpan Murray telling the camera, “I hate Mondays.”
Zombieland: Double Tap is in theaters now, bringing back Woody Harrelson, Jessie Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin for more zombie apocalypse action. It’s been 10 years since the original movie hit theaters, but writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick the duo behind the Deadpool franchise were hired almost immediately to write the sequel. Since it took a decade to finally get this movie finished, the script went through plenty of changes as time passed, and one of those changes resulted in nixing a hilarious but tragic scene that would have given us a Ghostbusters reunion.
Beware, in order to discuss this scene in question, we’re providing a spoiler alert for a certain cameo made in the sequel. But if you saw the most recent theatrical trailer for Zombieland: Double Tap, then you already know what we’re talking about. Either way, you’ve been warned.
The Hollywood Reporter put out a video talking about the development of Zombieland: Double Tap and where the sequel leaves things for a possible future for the franchise. In the video, they talk about one of the big changes made to the original draft of the sequel that was written shortly after the first movie, and it involves the cameo made by Bill Murray.
Yes, Bill Murray has another cameo in Zombieland: Double Tap. But since he died in the first movie, thanks to a shotgun blast to the body in a prank gone wrong, his cameo in the sequel is a flashback. In the cameo, which plays during the credits, Bill Murray is partaking in press junket interviews for Garfield 3: Flabby Tabby, a sequel that doesn’t actually exist. After hilariously answering some questions in the expected Bill Murray fashion, he sits down with Al Roker from The Today Show. But the interview goes south qucikly when Roker suddenly turns into a zombie, and Murray is forced to thrash him with a chair.
However, Bill Murray’s cameo would have been much different and significantly more star-studded if the original draft was kept intact. The flashback scene still took us to the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, but instead, Murray was on a golf course with Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, who are all trying to convince him to make Ghostbusters 3. But suddenly, each of Murray’s cast members start turning into zombies and Murray has to kill each and every one of them. That would have been hilarious!
Unfortunately, a long time passed between the first movie and the sequel, and in that time, not only have we lost Harold Ramis, but there has since been a Ghostbusters reboot, and there’s now a Ghostbusters sequel slated for release in 2020. So the scene just didn’t work as well with everything that has happened since the first draft was written.
The flashback scene in question also would have included another surprising cameo. Reese and Wernick told CinemaBlend that they had written Joe Pesci into the flashback scene. He would have been playing in front of the Ghostbusters crew, who would have hit their balls in his way because he was playing to slow. Pesci would have gotten really angry and hilarity would ensue.
In fact, Reese also revealed that Joe Pesci was initially offered the Bill Murray cameo in the first Zombieland. The writer recalled:
“We tried before and failed on the first. We tried to get Joe Pesci for the Bill Murray part in Zombieland. And the classic line… We pitched Joe Pesci’s agent before they’d read the script, and we said, ‘Well, it’s a small part.’ And Joe Pesci’s agent said, ‘There are no small parts, only small money.'”
That’s Hollywood for ya. And even though Reese and Wernick had a tough time getting Bill Murray lined up for that original cameo, I think everyone would agree that it worked out for the best. It also made it infinitely easier to get him to participate in the sequel. We’re just hoping that more of the footage from his time on set makes it to the Blu-ray release of Zombieland: Double Tap. Apparently they have hours of Bill Murray improvising with the various reporters who were real press people, and that’s something we desperately want to see.
One of the few remaining interesting things about zombies these days is their continued popularity among gun nuts, doomsday preppers, and survivalists. If every era gets the zombie movies they deserve — representing fear of nuclear annihilation in the 60s, commercialism in 80s, etc. — 2010s-era zombies seem to be our kitschy way of defanging genuine fears about societal collapse. They give us a chance to explore apocalyptic scenaria in a way that's cutesy and fun instead of anxious and paranoid. Which is probably why so many modern zombie stories take the form of comedy and bumper sticker kitsch. As a group of survivalists who built a “zombie-proof farm” outside Budapest put it, they foresaw “a bleak future where human infrastructure would fall apart, and people start killing each other for food.”
All of this is to say that there was at least an outside possibility that Zombieland: Double Tap, the 10-years-too-late sequel to 2009's Zombieland both from director Ruben Fleischer could've been relevant, funny, or compelling. Instead, it's a joyless exercise in pop-culture regurgitation. It's an impressive collection of dialogue that sounds punchy and has the general shape and snarky mouthfeel of jokes without managing genuine laughs.
To get us all caught up, this sequel takes place ten years after the original, which took place just after a zombie apocalypse. The survivors all took up place names as a way not to get too attached to each other, and the principals of the last movie — Columbus, played by Jesse Eisenberg, his sort-of girlfriend Wichita, played by Emma Stone, rowdy cowboy father figure Tallahassee, played by Woody Harrelson, and Wichita's little sister, Little Rock Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine, all growed up — have all taken up residence in a zombie-proofed White House.
They live as a family, and Columbus calls it some of the happiest times of his life his character provides voiceover from time to time, to give a bit of structure to this lifeless plot. But trouble is afoot. Columbus wants to marry Wichita, but she's terrified of becoming a boring wife “Married people only do one thing: they get divorced,” she tells Columbus. Little Rock has become a woman without seeing a boy her age since before puberty. Truly there isn't a plotline in Double Tap that hasn't shown up as a B-storyline in at least 10 sitcoms. Soon the girls have flown the coop and the boys are off after them, reprising their painfully on-the-nose alpha male/beta male buddy act, all with the occasional zombie kill.
I was trying to remember verbatim examples of how groaningly unfunny Double Tap's writing is, but most of the actual dialogue evaporated the moment it hit my brain. It just washes over you like a procession of empty commerce, the feeling of walking through a gift shop just as a powerful edible kicks in. Columbus and Tallahassee meet a blonde bimbo named Madison Zoey Deutch at the mall, where she's been living in a freezer inside a Pinkberry. Imagine “blonde bimbo” and you have the entirety of her character. Sex-starved from living in a freezer, she and Columbus hook up, and you'll never guess who shows up right after. I'm kidding, you know exactly who shows up right after. It's the kind of story “twist” you'd write if a gang of terrorists had hung you upside down and started poking you with sticks demanding to know what happens next.
Madison annoys Tallahassee. “You don't get a vote,” Tallahassee tells her. “Uh, yeah I do. Haven't you heard of women's suffering?” she asks.
Little Rock ends up running off with some guy named Berkeley, who is, get this, an insufferable hippie. The movie even has him pick up an acoustic guitar and sing Kumbaya at one point, like the actual song Kumbaya, just to give you an example of how unafraid Zombieland: Double Tap is of puking up the most unoriginal hack drivel. It is a treat for lovers of unadorned cliché.
At one point, Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch show up as Columbus and Tallahassee's eerie dopplegangers, Flagstaff and Albuquerque. And boy, it turns out that the only thing more grating than one nebbish beta male smugly recounting his survival “rules” is two nebbishy beta males smugly comparing them. In fact, one of the few benefits of living in 2019 vs. 2009 is that it seems pop-culture gatekeepers are finally abandoning the idea that people want to be lectured by their computery socially awkward alabaster nephewlings Verizon and Sprint are going to come around any day now, I can feel it....
There are some newer, more dangerous zombie strains, and rumors of a new survivor utopia free of them, and blah blah blah pretty much everything you can imagine happening happens. They manage to wrap it all up in under 100 minutes, which is a blessing. Double Tap isn't a worthwhile sequel, especially after a decade, but it's certainly a number two.
It’s been ten years since Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland was the breakout surprise of October 2009 and, believe it or not, the sequel is finally here. Those who followed the rumors in the intervening decade must have felt that Zombieland: Double Tap was never going to happen; despite the obvious enthusiasm from star Jesse Eisenberg and the rest of the cast, the production delays, casting concerns, and screenwriter turnover made it tough to imagine a sequel ever seeing the light of day. But not only does the new film reunite pretty much everyone – cast, director, and screenwriters – it also manages to capture some of the same magic that made the original a successful R-rated comedy at a time where that seemed like a minor Hollywood miracle.
And while the world of these characters has not changed drastically since we last saw them – zombies and rules are still very much intact – it’s hard not to draw parallels between the two films and see what has changed about both zombie movies and comedies in one little decade.
In a recent interview with both Fleischer and Eisenberg, we discussed getting the script to the right place, finding room for improvisation, and the power of limitations when it comes to shooting action.
At this point in the press circuit, everyone knows that one of the biggest sticking points for a Zombieland sequel was the need for the perfect script. But for a film like Zombieland: Double Tap, the perfect script must also allow room for improvisation. Spend five minutes in a room with Jesse Eisenberg and you can count on two clever callbacks and one bit of wordplay you wish was your own; for a mind like this, having a script that allowed room for off-the-cuff humor and observations was half the battle. “When [writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick] finally turned in their draft of this movie, we knew, A, that if we just did the scenes that it would be a good movie, but, B, they created a kind of foundation and context for us to live in these characters,” Eisenberg explains.
This meant walking a fine line between scripted jokes and the potential for on-set humor between the actors. It also meant turning down versions of the script – good versions, even – that did not offer that perfect balance of characters and jokes. “There were some scripts that were really good,” Eisenberg recalls, “but it didn’t feel like… it didn’t feel possible to improvise within them, because the characters didn’t feel whole. They felt kind of jokey, which is not a fault of the writer. It’s just a different tonality.” For Eisenberg, what makes a character like Columbus great is his ability to understand their reactions to the world around them beyond the scene on the page. “Like, ‘Oh, I took this character and put him in another scene, and you would know how he reacts,’” he explains.
This is one of the insights that Eisenberg carried over between films. The popularity of the first movie validated that his off-the-cuff jokes could land with a broader audience than his director and co-stars; this, in turn, encouraged him to lean into these kind of jokes throughout the film. “In the first movie I would just make jokes to make Ruben or Woody laugh,” Eisenberg recalls, before admitting his surprise at hearing those same jokes were getting big laughs in the editing room and test screenings. “I’m saying, ‘What? That was not even for the movie, that was just, you know, for you.’ And, it taught me that I could make jokes that I really liked, that I think are a little too strange, you know, for a mainstream movie. And, that it could work.”
Of course, any comedy sequel with self-referential voiceover is going to break the fourth wall on occasion, but another highlight of Zombieland: Double Tap is the film’s knowledge of when to toe the line and when to wipe it out altogether. Take, for instance, a scene where Luke Wilson’s character calls out Tallahassee for his outdated slang. Having a character describe a bit of dialogue as “so 2009” works well enough – it should and does get its fair share of laughs from the audience – but what makes the joke work is the next moment. Emma Stone’s Wichita bursts into laughter, a laughter that is never explained or commented on – a reaction just for the audience. “There was a follow-up joke to that that Woody says, where he goes, ‘Yeah, but the knife in my back feels very right now,” Fleischer shares. “And it just was a hat on a hat a little bit. Whereas just the line and the laugh was funnier. So, yeah, it’s a process with my editor, and with audiences, and friends, and whoever else. Just seeing what lands.”
Of course, not every good idea in Zombieland: Double Tap is tied to the humor. One of the more interesting decisions in the film is its no-gun finale. Nobody would have faulted Zombieland: Double Tap if it ended in a hail of gunfire and slow-motion zombie kills. Instead, the film pivots in an unexpected way. The peaceful city of Babylon – named, naturally, after the still-popular 1999 David Gray song – becomes the setting of a final showdown between the group of survivors and a horde of the evolved undead. Despite plenty of jokes about the city’s anti-gun policy during a zombie apocalypse, the ending mostly upholds these values, choosing to use handheld weapons and monster trucks rather than guns. Audiences may see this as a noticeable departure from the first film and a sign of the times, but for Fleischer, this was more about using the limitations of the action genre as a source of inspiration.
“I think it forced us to be a little bit more creative by removing the guns from the characters, so that we had to come up with fun set pieces. Like a monster truck that’s mowing down zombies or dropping huge things off a roof on the zombies.” Fleischer points to action icons like Jackie Chan and Gareth Evans as examples of directors who knew that limitations are what define great action sequences. “If you have somebody who can just do everything easily, then it’s kind of boring,” he explains. “If you’re handcuffed to a chair and you’ve got to fight while your handcuffed, or something like that, it just adds a cool element.” Not a political statement, then, but a filmic one: in this particular mode of cinema, guns are played out. If zombies are going to continue to die for our entertainment, filmmakers have to find a more interesting way to shoot the action sequences.
Underneath it all, at the heart of Zombieland: Double Tap is a fascinating idea: what happens when popular culture, ever evolving in real life, remains frozen in time with the downfall of civilization? Given that this film takes place ten years after the end of the world, Columbus and company are effectively stuck, forever, with the film, music, and literature the year 2009 had to offer. This gives the sequel a unique position in relation to the first film – it’s a movie made in 2019 but about characters trapped in 2009, and one that blurs the line between past and present think a ‘90s movie about the ‘80s, a film that is simultaneously too close and too far away from its cultural touchpoints. The biggest source of humor in the film comes in the form of Zoey Deutch; on the one hand, her character is a send-up of 2009 tropes, but on the other hand, she carves out her own path and comfortably steals the show. It’s the sort of character people will talk about, as much for what she isn’t modern as what she is independent and hilarious.
But as far as making a conscious effort to age the characters of Zombieland with the times? While there are certainly a few jokes in the sequel that may not play well to all audiences, the film feels positioned towards a 2019 audience in a way that belies its frozen-in-2009 premise. When compared to the original, there’s a consciousness that some of the rougher edges of Zombieland – particularly with regards to Columbus’s more-than-occasional bouts of misanthropy – have been smoothed out with age. These are tempting threads to tug on, especially in light of Todd Phillips’s recent comments on the state of comedy, but one that Fleischer doesn’t see as intentional in his own work. “I don’t think I approached it with any greater sensitivity, or awareness than we did the first one,” he admits. “It’s all character-based comedy, and if it feels true to the character, then it’s okay.”
That’s probably the best way to summarize Zombieland: Double Tap. If you felt that the relationship between characters and comedy in the first movie was worth repeated viewings, there’s a lot to love in the new film as well. The new characters add a bit of freshness to the story, and the ideas kicked around by both Fleischer and Eisenberg – limitation-based action and more esoteric humor – make it more than just a retreat of what we’ve seen before. If Zombieland can prove that there was still some juice left in zombie movies in 2009, then Zombieland: Double Tap might just prove that the right sequel can still find its audience, too.