By Katie O’Shea
Warm Bodies reads on paper like the next stage of the dead boy-meets-girl love saga. Teenage girls over sparkly vampires can instead flock to a film with a zombie as the lead love interest. Mind you, a pretty darn cute zombie with blue-tinged lips and artfully ripped clothing rather than a decomposing brain-hungry corpse. On the surface, Warm Bodies appears to leave any half-intelligent audience member in the cold. However, the film gleefully spins the love story on its head, eschewing the takes-itself-too-seriously tone of Twilight with a more tongue-in-cheek one, leading to a surprisingly funny trip to the theater.
Nicholas Hoult is R, a man of few words – mainly because he has lost his ability to speak, being a zombie and all. He shuffles around aimlessly in the corridors of the airport, has a few grunted “conversations” with his zombie friend M (played by Rob Corddry), and generally does the same thing day in and day out (literally – shuffle, eat, shuffle, eat). Until his heart is reawakened by Julie (Teresa Palmer), a member of the human resistance. Now R is beginning to acquire more and more of his old human attributes, and falling in love with Julie. Which might be a bit awkward once she realizes that he ate her boyfriend.
A large portion of the movie is narrated by R’s inner monologue, which is delightedly more verbose than what he can manage to speak out loud. Even though it may not make scientific sense, his observations are adroit and witty enough that you won’t care. There is also a nice twist on the aspect of eating brains, long a staple of zombie canon. Here, not only is it a zombie’s sustenance, but it also allows them glimpses of the person’s memories, giving them a moment to remember what they were like before they turned to mindless eating machines. It also provide R with a basic template as to how to best connect with his new would-be paramour as he views memories of her with her boyfriend.
The movie does have its issues. The death of Julie’s boyfriend is written off with a perfunctory lack of sadness or angst, which moves the plot along, but doesn’t quite jive with the idea that Julie would so readily fall for her boyfriend’s murderer. It is also never truly explained how the physiology of it all works. First, it seems the zombies are incapable of running, then the next scene R is tearing a path with Julie across the tarmac. The zombies shamble along aimlessly but have no trouble opening airplane doors, operating turntables, or driving. R is shot at, but it doesn’t affect him. Are the zombies actually “dead”? Is it something else? It’s not really explained by the filmmakers, and the science of it all is muddled at best. However, these are questions that are put aside easily enough during the film’s run time and mulled over afterwards with friends, and should not detract from the enjoyment of the film.
Hoult and Palmer give a spark to the relationship proceedings that Bella and Edward could only envy. Dave Franco makes the most of a small part, and Analeigh Tipton continues turning out wickedly funny performances, this time as Julie’s sarcastic best friend Nora. Rob Corddry gets off some of the best one-liners in the film as Hoult’s zombie buddy M. John Malkovich is the only casting that seems out of place, as though he wandered in one afternoon to give a stock “angry general who’s also a dad” performance between film takes for Red 2.
Ultimately, the movie is an enjoyable twist on an old genre.
Bottom Line: See it, either in theaters or as a rental.
Who Would Like It: Zombie fans, Twihards, Romantic comedy fans.