bill bodkin has warm feelings for the latest zombie comedy…
Warm Bodies should’ve been terrible. A zombified version of Romeo and Juliet where Romeo is a member of the walking dead and Juliet is the daughter of the man in charge of slaughtering zombies? The two meet after he saves her from being eaten by his zombie brethren then somehow and someway starts becoming more and more human — all through the power of love and emotion?
No, this should’ve never, ever worked.
But it did…it worked gloriously.
Warm Bodies, on paper, seems like a young adult cash-in on the zombie genre. However, it’s actually a really charming, funny, action-filled and no pun intended, heartwarming film. It takes a tried and true (and sometimes overdone) genre and reinvents the rules resulting in the kind of film that works as a date movie, zombie movie, comedy and action flick.
Here’s five reason why it works:
1. Nicholas Hoult: The young actor who’s resume includes highly acclaimed films like About a Boy and A Single Man as well as X-Men: First Class, is the driving force of the film. He’s our hero and narrator, simply known as R — a neurotic, hopeless romantic in his early 20s who longs for attachment and really good vinyl records. His inner monologue is more Woody Allen than George Romero and Hault in all his big-eyed, charmingly befuddledness, knocks it out of the park. Imagine if Jesse Eisenberg’s character from Zombieland was actually a zombie and not our hero.
Hault’s physical comedy, mainly his facial expressions, are pure gold. He really sucks you in as this kinda misfit zombie who loves vinyl records and collecting odds and ends from every place he goes. You buy into every aspect of Warm Bodies because you are rooting for Hault’s character to resist all his zombie urges, become a human and end with the girl.
2. Rob Corddry: Usually, Corddry is required to go way over the top in any film he appears in. Sometimes this works (see Children’s Hospital) and sometimes it doesn’t (see Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay). Here, Corddry, plays M, R’s best friend and loyal sidekick. Corddry has some of the best lines in the film yet it’s his dramatic performance that is the most intriguing. When his zombie process begins to reverse, due to flashbacks of his former life, the sorrow in his eyes is near heartbreaking. It’s a surprising touching performance and if it were not for Hault, Corddry would’ve stolen the film.
3. The ‘Heart’ of the Film: Why did Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland work so well? Why are they are films fans watch over and over again? Besides the humor and hilarity — it’s the heart. There’s reality in these films, there’s sadness and loss, all which we, the audience, can grab onto and relate to. Here, it’s the feeling of being misunderstood and lonely — something we’ve all felt. You really relate to R because, despite being dead and loving to dine on the flesh of the living — he’s got problems like we do.
4. The Zombie Archetype Is Put on Its Head: Zombies becoming human again? Zombies being able to make words and simple sentences? Zombies able to play records? (And have damn good taste in music…Springsteen and Guns n’ Roses, nice.) Yeah, not something we’ve seen in zombie movies, or at least good zombie movies, but here it works. The creatives behind this film are all-in on this concept, never backing down from what could easily be torn down by diehard zombie aficionados. And the addition of “Bonies” zombies that have evolved to a deadlier, more primal state, is also a nice touch.
5. There’s Still Plenty of Action: Yes, despite being a PG-13 movie and despite being more of a romantic film, there’s still plenty of guns and gore. It’s a little lighter than an episode of The Walking Dead, but if you’re jonesing for some zombies eating brains or getting capped in the brain — you’ll be taken care of.
Warm Bodies, is, to use a well-used phrase, the first must-see film of 2013. It’s got everything a good time at the movies should have — laughs, tears, chills, spills and the undead.