Warm Bodies is just the cutest. There isn’t really another way to put it. For the sake of blogging, I’ll try to expand a bit, but what it comes down to is cuteness.
It’s high praise, just to clarify. Warm Bodies is a zombie movie and a romantic comedy–a zom-com (thanks, I’ll be here all week)–and it tows the line between these two drastically different genres almost perfectly. The young, mostly unknown cast doesn’t try too hard to get you to love them, instead letting the script do the talking. The script doesn’t try too hard to make you laugh, either, though the jokes that are there are great and balanced. Actually, come to think of it, the script throws a lot of the movie back on the actors, letting them fill in the physical comedy blanks when need be. It all works, and it’s adorable.
Nicholas Hoult is R, an anomaly zombie of sorts (with amazing blue eyes, hello distraction!), aware of his undead state but frustrated by it. He considers himself more evolved than his other fellow walkers, who have generally taken up residence at an airport, as evidenced by the tchotchke-filled home he’s made for himself in an airplane abandoned on the runway. Behind the flesh-eating mantra is some semblance of sensitivity, heightened when a group of young soldiers invades their territory. R instinctively eats one of them, Perry (Dave, the likable Franco), absorbs his memories upon digesting his brain, and begins to fall in love with his girlfriend, Julie (Teresa Palmer, who has that look that makes you think you went to high school with her, in a good way). R saves Julie from being eaten by other zombies; well, more precisely, he holds her hostage in the airplane for a few days until the excitement over the humans subsides. The more time he spends with her, the less he wants to eat her, and the more he’s able to express his thoughts in actual words, rather than grunts. In other terms, he begins to regain some of his humanity back. He evolves because of love.
Julie takes a liking to him, too, but as the daughter of the Generic World Leader Person (John Malcovich, who else?), she’s obligated to return to the protected, walled, Walking Dead-prison-esque area. R actually begins to miss her, which he relays to his best friend M (Rob Corddry, who is the best), M eventually experiences the same quasi-love feelings after seeing a poster of a couple holding hands, and decides to help R invade the protected area and convince Malcovich (his character’s name is unimportant) that he’s not going to eat Julie. More zombies come around, too, and help the cause. It’s like the opposite of scary: a group of zombies heading towards a civilized area, but with the intention of being nice to them.
There is more of a wrench in this monkey, though. In this world, partially dreamed up by Isaac Marion (author of the original book) and Jonathan Levine (director, screenplay adapter), there are beings worse than the zombies — they’re called Bonies, and they’re far more vicious and dilapidated than the actual zombies. They despise actual zombies, but really have no use for them, considering them tedious obstacles in the way of human flesh. This aspect of zombie mythology is really interesting, and in my brief and somewhat recent foray into zombie entertainment, I’d never come across this sort of hierarchy, but I like it. In this world, too, the zombies move a little faster (not World War Z trailer-fast, though), but they are still debilitated once their brain is destroyed. It’s not too hard to comprehend the way everything works, but the addition of the Bonies seems like it’d be beneficial to any other zombie-infested world. I’d like to see Rick and his crew enlist real zombies in countering the Bonies on The Walking Dead. (But maybe I’m just sick of all the characters on that show and I’d like them to stop being so hostile towards each other. Never mind.)
As I said before, this is a zom-com, so I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to reveal that there’s a happy ending. In a zombie movie, this is probably a first, which makes it that much more refreshing. Date movie? Yes. Some brains and gore? Yes. Sly jokes? Yes. John Malkovich? Yes. You shouldn’t need any more criteria to go see this, then.