EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 3, 2013

'Warm Bodies' won't leave you cold

Vellante's View
Greg Vellante

---- — Imagine the inner dialogue of the walking dead. Do they grunt and moan internally to mirror their outward vocal patterns, or do they mentally ponder everything around them in grammatically-coherent sentences expressed with human-like emotions?

This latter scenario is far more tragic — a situation where a wandering corpse is actually a wandering soul trapped within the confines of a bloodthirsty, uninhabited and uncontrollable monster.

Sure sounds like a rough life, especially if you’re a zombie who falls in love with a girl yet are unable to express your feelings properly. Even rougher if that whole falling-in-love thing is preceded by chowing down on the flesh and brains of the girl’s boyfriend.

Such is the case of “Warm Bodies,” a frequently creative and often enjoyable romantic zombie comedy from writer/director Jonathan Levine (“The Wackness,” “50/50”).

Based on the novel by Isaac Marion, the story picks up in a post-apocalyptic world where zombies roam, with voiceover narration being delivered from 20-something zombie named “R” (he can’t remember his name, just the first letter), played by Nicholas Hoult (“About a Boy”).

R follows a crew of zombies on a raid for food, and kills/eats the boyfriend (Dave Franco) of Julie (Teresa Palmer).

In a unique spin on the genre, a zombie’s consumption of brains provides him/her with the memories of that particular human. In this case, R receives Julie’s boyfriend’s memories and immediately falls head over heels for the girl — keeping her safe by taking her away from the attack and bringing her to his airplane cabin zombie pad to listen to vinyl records and “bond.”

The interactions between R and the human world are frequently funny, as the former tries to express his intentions and emotions in hilariously limited ways.

Even funnier is the zombie-to-zombie dialogue, especially between Hoult and comedian Rob Corddry as R’s undead pal M.

The movie is ripe with amusing moments and sweet exchanges, finding its comedy/horror vibe in the zombies and its romantic energy from the growing relationship between R and Julie.

It’s a natural and sometimes touching romantic plot, yet plays out pretty much exactly as one would expect it to. But then again, so does most of “Warm Bodies.”

Aside from some clever touches to the genre and some truly standout moments, “Warm Bodies” is a perfectly entertaining misstep —something I reckon could have been done a lot better, perhaps if aimed more at adults than the teen-“Twilight” crowd, but the movie gets the job done.

It hardly compares to Levine’s aforementioned past two films, yet revisits the flair for horror expressed by his debut feature “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” (2006).

All in all, the film is fun and light with moments that both sizzle and fizzle. “Warm Bodies” expresses a less bloody, more sanitized approach to the zombie genre — cutesy yet clever, and tame yet a bit wild at the same time.

It’s a weird balance, yet one that works most of the time for “Warm Bodies.” Needless to say, the film hardly left me cold.