Director: Jonathan Levine
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 6/10
It’s surprising to find a January movie that has a pulse (especially when half of the characters in the movie don’t). While Warm Bodies suffers from progressively weakening logic and a rudderless supporting cast, this zom-rom-com features heartfelt main performances, earnest writing, and a surprising dose of charm that gives the story of undead-boy-meets-girl a bit more life than expected.
“Why can’t I connect with people?” Asks our decomposing hero – ‘R’ – a thoughtful, flesh-eating twenty-something who can’t carry a conversation beyond the first groan. As R’s opening voice-over narration explains, eight years have passed since an unspecified plague infected most of mankind. Since then, R and his fellow undead limp aimlessly around a zombie-infested airport, avoiding Bonies (think ‘super zombies’) and occasionally heading into human territory for a snack. The story kicks into Twilight mode one day when R stumbles upon a group of humans and immediately falls for a blonde, shotgun-wielding zombie-slayer named Julie. R resists eating her (choosing to eat her boyfriend instead) and spends the rest of the story risking his life (or lack thereof) so she can keep hers.
In order to enjoy this movie, you not only have to be OK with watching other people lose their brains, but you also have to be OK with giving up your own. The incongruous idea of soulless corpses being able to fall in love is only the first of many gaping plot holes. There is never any explanation given as to why R can’t manage more than a grunt but can have deep internal monologues in his voiceover, why holding hands with a zombie causes its heart to start beating again, or why the apocalypse occurred in the first place. A host of underwhelming side characters didn’t bode well either – take R’s supportive zombie bro M, for example, whose character development culminates in his one line statement about ex-girlfriends – “Bitches, man.”
While the near absence of logic coupled with a scarcity of gore is sure to disappoint genre purists and Shaun of the Dead fans, charismatic performances by Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer helped bring the script back to life. Since R can barely speak, most of their relationship is developed through the exchange of stolen glances, nervous smiles, and a few two-person dance parties to R’s collection of hits from Bob Dylan, Springsteen, and Orbison (did I mention this film has a great soundtrack?). These scattered moments of awkward charm and an uplifting, overarching message about connection and the human experience are enough to distract from the far-fetched premise and leave you walking out of the theater with that happy-ending glow.
Overall, for those who would enjoy a better produced, directed, and written version of Twilight, this zombie romance mash-up is worth the ticket price. For The Walking Dead fans – keep on walking. Warm Bodies is likely not going to be the best zombie movie you’ll see, but as far as soulless-corpse-turned-boyfriend stories go, this will likely be the cutest.