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‘Warm Bodies’ review: A zombie love story

By | February 02, 2013 | Blog
Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

“Warm Bodies” stars Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

For anyone that has ever wondered what you would get if you mixed elements of “Zombieland” and “Beauty and the Beast,” with just a dash of “Romeo and Juliet,” there is now an answer.

Based on the novel of the same name by Isaac Marion, “Warm Bodies” is a story that believes the romantic comedy genre was missing one major thing: zombies.

The story follows R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie that is slowly slipping further away from being human with each passing day. He cannot remember what started this zombie outbreak, how he died or even his own name, but he can imagine what things were like before. He imagines that there was a time before everyone became a zombie and people interacted with each other. That is all R really longs for — interaction.

Enter Julie (Teresa Palmer), a human woman beautiful enough to stop R dead in his tracks when he is attempting to cure his insatiable zombie appetite. During an effort to find food with his zombie cohorts, they find Julie and a small band of humans. R spares her and the two begin to form a bond that seems to be making him human again, an effect that just might change the world.

Jonathan Levine, the director of “50/50” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, proves from the first scene that he was the right choice to write and direct this film. “Warm Bodies” has a wit and cleverness about it that one would not expect from a romantic comedy about zombies. However, what the film provides, on top of plenty of laughs, is social commentary.

In much the same way that the George A. Romero zombie classics such as “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” provided commentary on things ranging from consumerism to class conflict, “Warm Bodies” has its own statement on society. The film tackles social interactions, saying that the rise in texting and social networking is slowly turning society into a bunch of mindless zombies.

There is a lot more to this film than the social commentary though. It also delivers a successful romantic comedy, providing enough of both elements.

Hoult and Palmer have strong chemistry and give unique takes on their characters. Hoult, in particular, stands out with his witty, well-delivered internal monologue that shows a zombie feeling the exact same way any human would in the various situations he encounters.

The real scene-stealer of the movie, however, is Rob Corddry as R’s best friend, M. His total screen time is not that much, but a lot of the funnier lines that will stick with you belong to him.

“Warm Bodies” is a good time. It delivers exactly what its audience wants from it —  a funny, romantic movie with a creative spin. There is honestly not a ton to complain about here.

If there is a real weakness, it is the fact that beyond the interesting characters it is a pretty standard romantic comedy, adhering to many of the tropes for which the genre is known. John Malkovich is also severely underused as Julie’s father. It is not really a role he in particular needed to play. The role was generic enough that any older actor would have worked in the part. Having Malkovich there raises the expectations a little, but he never provides the craziness of some of his previous performances like “Red” or “Being John Malkovich” that would have made the part more interesting. Even with that in mind, “Warm Bodies” is still entertaining.

Coming out two weeks before Valentine’s Day, this is a perfect date movie. It is not the chick-flick that some of the promotional material has implied. This is a film guys can enjoy with their dates.

“Warm Bodies,” a Summit Entertainment release, is rated PG-13 for zombie violence and some language. Running time: 97 minutes. B+

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