Runtime: 1 HR, 37 MIN
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writers: Jonathan Levine, Issac Marion
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco, and John Malkovich
Romantic comedies are usually a genre women either attend alone, watch among friends, or drag their boyfriends or husbands to. On rare occasions however a rom-com will break tradition and will find a way to attract (or at least not repulse) men; Warm Bodies may be one of those films.
When the zombie apocalypse brings mankind to the brink of extinction a lonely zombie breaks his normal routine of eating brains to rescue a beautiful young woman from certain death. As they spend more time together he begins to regain his humanity and infects his fellow zombies with life.
Warm Bodies is a better romantic comedy than it is a zombie film, but that’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable. If your ideal Saturday night is to watch George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead then you might find your yourself nitpicking many aspects of this film. If you’re more of a casual zombie fan you still might question some of the film’s logic, but it shouldn’t affect your all overall enjoyment of the film. For those that are just trying to find a date movie that you’re significant other won’t consider cancelling on you because of then Warm Bodies should work for you and yours as well.
Like many films that take place with humanity on the brink of extinction Warm Bodies features a rather small cast. Long periods of the film are solely focused on the film’s two stars Nicholas Hoult, best known for the Hugh Grant comedy About a Boy and for playing Beast in X-Men: First Class, and Kristen Stewart’s blonde doppelganger Teresa Palmer. Hoult delivers a charming performance despite having to mumble through most of his lines and ’limping’ his way through every scene. He and Palmer have good chemistry together and she effectively plays the ‘straight man’ for much of the film’s zombie related humor. Like Kristen Stewart she has a predisposition to letting her mouth hang open, but if you can look past that she’s quite good.
The remaining cast includes Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, Analeigh Tipton, and John Malkovich. Corddry gives a surprisingly subtle performance that caught me off guard. As you might expect Malkovich plays the stern nosed authority figure; he’s not bad, but it feels like he phoned the role in. The remaining filled by Franco and Tipton are fine if not forgettable and merely exist to give Palmer someone to talk to when Hoult isn’t on screen.
Where Warm Bodies may run into trouble with some audiences is with the film’s universe and concept. The origins of the zombie apocalypse is briefly touched upon but an exact timetable isn’t provided. With that in mind, how long do think things like electricity would run in areas overrun by the undead? Weeks… months… years… since civilization has never ended due to zombies I have no idea either, but I doubt electricity would run indefinitely outside the ‘quarantine’ zone. The question of why Nicholas Hoult’s character (simply known as “R”) is different from other vampires is never explained. Even before he begins regaining his humanity he’s acts differently than his compatriots. It’s not an issue that should affect someone’s overall enjoyment of Warm Bodies, but it’s something that some audiences will question.
The film’s Romeo & Juliet undertone isn’t handled with much subtlety. Teresa Palmer’s character is named ‘Julie’ while Nicholas Hoult is nicknamed ‘R’ which is obviously short for Romeo. There’s the classic balcony scene, and Julie’s father is controlling and doesn’t want to see her and ‘R’ together. Even though the storyline isn’t handled with much subtlety it still works relatively well within the confines of the film.
Warm Bodies won’t go down in history as one of the great romantic comedies of all time but it is suitably entertaining. Hoult and Palmer are enjoyable and the film’s zombie related humor often works well. As long as you don’t spend too much time over analyzing the zombie world Warm Bodies takes place in there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it… or at least not despise it.