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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?
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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...
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