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For a Zombie Romance, “Warm Bodies” Mostly Works

February 1, 2013

By John C.

Warm Bodies PosterDirected by Jonathan Levine, Warm Bodies is the first zombie movie that could ever be called a romantic comedy, and the new release will likely use this mix of genres to become a hit.  Although we unfortunately won’t be able to publish full reviews, the film mostly works and is worth seeing for the good performances and positive message about love being the ultimate cure.

After an unexplained zombie apocalypse threatened humanity, R (Nicholas Hoult) spends his days pacing the airport, grunting his way through conversations with his friend M (Rob Corddry).  They band together to hunt for food, venturing into the abandoned city to feed off of the remaining humans.  But R starts to change when he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer), sparing her life after eating out her boyfriend Perry’s (Dave Franco) brain.

The zombie boy falls for the human girl, sparking a powerful change within his heart as he starts to regain his humanity.  But Julie’s father (John Malkovich) refuses to believe that the zombies are capable of curing themselves and he is a threat to their budding romance, as are the skeletal Bonies who are already too far gone.

It is easy to admire the tone that is kept throughout Warm Bodies, with the setting and undead characters providing a sharp juxtaposition to the surprisingly human love story at its heart.  By taking what could have been a straight up horror movie and mixing it with overtones of a romantic comedy, this is a film that delivers a little bit of all three genres, with one never overshadowing the other.  These tonal changes are well handled by Jonathan Levine, the director who last gave us the profoundly moving and often very funny cancer film 50/50, a perfectly balanced mix of genres that ranked among the best of 2011.

But I do think that Warm Bodies has already been a little overhyped in some circles, and I have a few minor quibbles with this film.  The story is kind of predictable, especially if you have seen the trailers, and the character development feels a little rushed, to the point that some of the emotional beats go by too quickly.  This is especially evident during the initial scenes between Julie and R as they fall in love, before the connection that forms between them morphs into a more believable relationship throughout the rest of the story.  But Warm Bodies is still a film that works more often than it doesn’t, providing perfectly agreeable entertainment for the brief 98 minutes.

Although I have pointed out moments when the story doesn’t quite work, I am still recommending the film.  Nicholas Hoult makes for a conflicted but likeable protagonist, and Teresa Palmer is a good match as his love interest.  Analeigh Tipton provides the best moments of comic relief as Julie’s friend, and Rob Corddry and John Malkovich are welcome additions to the cast.  Topped off with an appealing screenplay and a perfectly timed soundtrack, Warm Bodies provides good in the moment entertainment, that has a refreshingly positive message about how love can overcome anything, including the zombie apocalypse.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2013 12:35 am

    Good review John. It could have gone deeper and further into it’s material, but still works because of it’s character-driven approach.

    Like

    • February 2, 2013 7:46 am

      Agreed – glad to see that you also enjoyed Warm Bodies for what it was. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      -John C.

      Like

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