Zombies and romantic comedies aren’t two things you’d ever think of putting together or even watching. However, that’s what I found myself doing the other night as I sat down for a screening of 50/50 director Jonathan Levine’s new movie, Warm Bodies.
Warm Bodies follows R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie that resides and roams through an airport. In this story, zombies aren’t the mindless man-eating creatures we’ve come to know and weirdly love. They are man-eating and love brains, but their minds and rationale are still intact. Their minds are lucid; the only problem is that they can’t express themselves because they’re technically dead corpses.
It’s a pretty bleak existence for R, until one day, he goes on a very slow raid for some fresh brains and encounters a group of living human teenagers. It’s there that he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer) and instantly falls in love with her. He decides to save her and take her back home with him. She’s at first terrified, but then after spending time with him, she learns that he’s not quite like how zombies are supposed to be.
I had read the book by Isaac Marion that the film is adapted from. It was actually one of my favorite books of 2011. What I loved about Warm Bodies was the different, clever and new take on zombies. The story was dark, thoughtful and often witty. As a book, it’s a very enjoyable experience.
The movie offers a slightly different experience. It adds more quirks and comedy to the story. The tone is a little more satirical and self-aware. Truthfully, all those additions work for it. It’s a simple story. There’s nothing too complex about the plot or new zombie mythology lain out here. Therefore, the self-aware humor and eccentricity bring a new layer of entertainment to it.
It’s important to point out that if you’re looking for something à la Walking Dead, then you’re looking in the wrong place. This is a romance, and these zombies have hearts. It is comparable to Twilight in some ways. Yet, where Twilight always took itself too seriously, Warm Bodies knows when to mock itself.
One thing that works against the film is how tiring the voiceover can get. The voiceover is clearly necessary for us to understand R, but once I was halfway through the film, I was craving some real dialogue. Luckily, R’s thoughts are funny, and he’s the main provider of comedy through his quips and wit. Also, Levine decided to use music in some cases to express R’s feelings. The great song queues were probably my favorite thing about the movie. The soundtrack has a varied selection of good songs, which are perfectly placed throughout the film.
Hoult does a fine job at narrating and acting like the undead. He nails the physicality of it, and man, I couldn’t stop to think once and while, how taxing it was for him to hold his posture and walk like that. Palmer is sweet, lively and tough as Julie. They have as much chemistry as you’d think a zombie and human could have. John Malkovich stars in the film as Julie’s father, General Grigio, whose mission is to destroy every single zombie. Dave Franco (21 Jump Street) and Analeigh Tipton (Crazy Stupid Love) also star in the film. I actually really enjoyed Tipton’s role in the film as Julie’s best friend.
Warm Bodies is a good movie, a little better than most people think it would be. I will admit that my love for the novel made my appreciation for the movie greater. I think those who haven’t read the book wouldn’t like it as much, or be as accepting of this different take on zombies. Nevertheless, Levine did a good job adapting Marion’s novel to the big screen and accomplished something I once thought was impossible: making an entertaining zombie romantic comedy.
Rating: 6.5/10 stars
Warm Bodies hits theaters February 1st.