Genre: Comedy, Horror
Director: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, John Malkovich
Release Date: February 1st 2013
“This date is not going well. I want to die all over again.” Such are the sentiments of a zombie in love, a character so seldom seen on the big screen. In Warm Bodies, Nicholas Hoult plays such a zombie who—despite a limited vocabulary and a knack for shrugging instead of committing to anything—begins a youthful romance with a living girl, played by Theresa Palmer.
The story begins as we hear the voice-over of a sentimental and introverted zombie (Hoult), whose name he can’t remember. He eventually goes by R because he believes that his living name began with that. R lives in a world of mundane and slow-walking zombies who yearn for human flesh. But R is different. In a voice-over that is present throughout much of the film, we listen to R analyzes his surroundings and questions why he is different than the non-thinking, unfeeling zombies he’s surrounded by.
Despite his intellect and wit though, R still attacks humans and feasts on them, specifically enjoying their brains which—when eaten—show the zombies memories of their victim’s lives. During the course of one fight, R meets a young fighter named Julie (Teresa Palmer), whose mother was devoured by a zombie. Despite a temptation to literally eat her brain, he kidnaps Julie and brings her back to the zombie side of town where she is forced to act like a zombie to survive.
What follows is an unlikely romance between the two. R keeps her in an airplane he calls home despite her desire to leave. He knows that if she leaves, she’ll be gone from his life forever. Instead, he fills her days with adventures despite the fact that he has a limited vocabulary and very little to talk about.
What could have been a one-note joke is spread out over the course of a brisk ninety-seven minutes. R’s voice-over provides a majority of the laughs but the situations they encounter in the land of the living dead will keep audiences chuckling and enjoying the cute dynamic between the two youngsters.
The story understands that the premise might be new but the concept isn’t. The script by Jonathan Levine (50/50) and adapted from the novel by Isaac Marion offers a few nice nods to zombie movies of yore and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Warm Bodies celebrates multiple genres but embraces the unlikely romance between its leads more than anything else.
Of course, no romance rings true without obstacles standing in the way. Julie and R have to contend with a number of odd dilemmas. R barely speaks and Julie is terrified by him at the beginning of the story. Add to that the fact that Julie’s father Grigio (a well-cast John Malkovich) is leading the rebellion against the zombies and the fact that R is the one who killed Julie’s ex-boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) and you have plenty of reasons why these two can’t end up together.
But there are few reasons not to check out Warm Bodies this weekend. It’s a fun light-hearted comedy boasting a killer soundtrack and a great script. Get your body to a theater today to check it out.
Review by: John Hanlon