“Warm Bodies” finally gives zombies some long overdue, positive screen time and they take the ball and run with it. Well, run may be the wrong word…slog, amble…might be more accurate, but who cares? Bottom line…in one fell swoop, Warm Bodies has rehabilitated the zombie image from fear-inducing flesh eaters to confused, lonely souls really looking for hugs…and dare they hope…love and understanding.
Directed by Jonathan Levine with screenplay by Levine, based on Isaac Marion’s novel, “Warm Bodies” take a fresh look at the zombie life through the eyes of R, a perfectly cast Nicholas Hoult. R “lives” with a group of zombies in an airport. Through R we learn that zombies have friends, although the lack of communication skills makes sharing confidences difficult. R’s best friend and wingman is M (Rob Corddry). Watching the two of them evolve their friendship is almost worthy of a movie featuring just them.
Unlike vampires who feed on blood, zombies need human flesh in order to survive. It’s during one of the searches for “food” that R and his compadres come upon Julie (Teresa Palmer) and her friends. Amidst the ensuing battle between humans and zombies, Julie’s and R’s eyes lock and both are “done for.” Love at first sight aside, R still kills and eats the brains of Julie’s boyfriend, Perry (Dave Franco), albeit out of her view. We learn from R that eating the brains is the best part of a human and that feasting on someone’s brain gives the zombie the memories of that now deceased being.
R rescues Julie from impending doom and the two of them begin to connect. Through this connection, R begins to experience some changes and those changes eventually make their way to the brotherhood of zombies.
“Warm Bodies” is the antithesis of “Twilight” films. Although Julie looks like a blonde Bella, Julie actually smiles. Bella’s father accepts her relationship with Edward, but as a sheriff seems blithely unaware early on that Seattle has a vampire population. Julie’s father (John Malkovich) is not quite as understanding and as leader of the remaining humans in his city is all too aware of his zombie problem. As far as leading men go, Edward is no match for R. Even in R’s spaced-out form, his eyes are a wonder to behold. “Warm Bodies” dialogue is witty and interesting. Finally, unlike “Twilight,” everyone in “Warm Bodies” can act and, boy, does that make a difference.
“Warm Bodies’” supporting cast is great. Dave Franco’s role is brief, but done well and John Malkovich keeps down the crazy and is highly entertaining to watch. Analeigh Tipton, as Julie’s supportive best friend, Nora, is building a solid body of terrific work (a lucky loser in Cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model), most recently seen as the love-struck babysitter in “Crazy, Stupid Love.”
“Warm Bodies” is not “Romeo and Juliet,” but its heart is warm and it does the zombies fellowship proud. It’s a fun time at the movies.