Movie Review: Warm Bodies

Julie and R

If I’m going to discuss Warm Bodies, I need to get one thing out of the way immediately… if you are a hardcore zombie fan (as I am), this is not the movie for you.  If you are a fan of wonderfully cute and warm romantic comedies with a twist (as I also am), than you may love Warm Bodies, because this is a movie for you.

R (Nicholas Hoult) is dead… or rather, he is one of the many undead wandering the world aimlessly shuffling through his existence.  What makes R different from any zombie you’ve seen before is that he has an internal dialogue, and wants something more out of death.  He lives (?) in an airplane parked on the runway at the airport… during the day he joins his zombie friends, specifically his best friend M (Rob Corddry), in meandering about the airport, picking up random objects he finds interesting and collecting these objects in his plane at night.  He does not sleep, he does not dream… but he, and the rest of his undead kind, will leave the airport in search of food… and for a zombie, that food is the brains of the living, and with each bite of brain, the undead will see the memories of their victim.  In this way, they are able to live again.

Sadly, there is another form of zombie… the boneys.  These are zombies who no longer have any skin or muscle and more closely resemble grey meaty skeletons.  These creatures are more brutal… more specific in their attacks… there is no internal dialogue going on with these guys… and eventually, all zombies end up boneys.

Julie (Teresa Palmer) lives in the walled city of the living.  Her existence is one of survival… her father is the main military honcho, Grigio (John Malkovich); her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) is a bit of a wanker; and her best friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton) is… well, she seems alright.  Actually… this actress was in Crazy, Stupid, Love and I have a bit of a crush on her.  I was bummed that she isn’t in the movie as much as I had hoped.

Julie heads out of the city in search of supplies when her scavenging party crosses paths with R’s hunting party… and Perry becomes lunch for R, who now has Perry’s memories of Julie to trigger something within him.  R protects Julie and takes her back to his plane with him.

As the film progresses, R becomes more alive… and Julie begins to notice that he is changing.  If only he can convince the other zombies not to eat her, and if she can convince her father not to destroy him.  If this sounds at all familiar, realize that this is essentially Romeo and Juliet: The Zombie Edition… complete with a balcony scene and all.

There is very little in terms of frights in this film… it’s simply cute.  Rob Corddry is one of those actors who can move his pinky and make me laugh, so making him a grunting zombie is perfect… and Hoult manages to convey so much with nothing more than his eyes and the occasional shrug.

I realize many people, especially those that read the much beloved novel of the same name written by Isaac Marion, are disappointed with the film.  Too many changes to the subtext and not enough backstory to the boneys and Grigio, but this isn’t the first novel to be altered between page and screen.  The aforementioned hardcore zombie fans aren’t interested in anything approaching fun or adorable, not words usually associated with the genre, and have been unfairly maligning this movie as Twilight for zombie fans.  On the flip side are those that hate horror and/or zombies who are simply turned off because they believe it will be gory and scary.  In my opinion, both sides are completely wrong.

Yes, R is a cute guy ala Edward… but what else could he be?  At least he doesn’t sparkle or look overly constipated.  He wouldn’t be able to get better if his jaw were hanging off or his intestines were hanging out, and Julie would have been completely repulsed.  Yes, this has zombies… but there is little in the way of viscera and much of the action in the film ends up being funny.

I would not recommend this film to those who are mired in genre purity… but I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who could use a little lightness in the heart and enjoy a wonderful love story.  It may be predictable at times… it may be a bit twee… but it certainly won over my heart, and my brains.  Allow Warm Bodies to jump start you dying shriveled heart… it’s worth the effort.

I want my own plane…
Cornelius J. Blahg 

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