Even zombie teens need love and 'Warm Bodies'
Imagine a “Twilight” where the panting, flirting teens were in on the joke, where the gulf between them was more about communication skills than supernatural schisms.
Where one teen had really bad skin.
That's “Warm Bodies,” a funny teen romance set against the aftermath of the Zombie Apocalypse. Jonathan (“50/50”) Levine has turned Isaac Marion's teen romance novel into an often amusing tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy - tongue in cheek, and brains in teeth. Chewy, tasty brains.
Nicholas Hoult (“Clash of the Titans,” “X-Men: First Class”) is the perfectly droll zombie narrator who staggers about with the usual teen angst.
He can't remember his name, can't justify his means of survival — eating the brains, etc., of the few remaining humans. (“At least I'm conflicted about it.”)
And he's lonely. He holes up in an abandoned business jet and listens to old love songs (“Missing You”) in his battery powered turntable.
And then he spots “her.” And if you've seen Teresa Palmer in “The Sorcerer's Apprentice” or “I Am Number Four,” you get it — gorgeous enough to reanimate the dead.
Julie (Palmer) is the daughter of the benevolent dictator (John Malkovich) of the local walled enclave of humans, one of the young people considered wily and nimble enough to be sent out foraging among the walking dead - medical supplies, canned foods, the things that will keep the human race going just a little bit longer.
The zombies get the drop on Julie and her team. Her boyfriend (Dave Franco) is our hero zombie's latest meal.
Zombie boy rescues, or kidnaps Julie, depending on your point of view. He strains to form a word, to speak. He plays her his vinyl. And since he's eaten her boyfriend, he's absorbed their memories together. If he can ever get this speech thing back, if he can ever manage more than a sound, much less a syllable (“Rrrrrrrr”), maybe he's got a shot.
After all, he's “R.” And she's Julie, which is short for something Shakespearean. Maybe they're fated to be together, no matter that her dad wants to blow his head off on general principle.
Levine shoots the action scenes in brisk strokes, and the romantic ones in warm, extreme close-ups. And there are some funny lines, such as R's observations about his “race.” “God, we move slow.”
But that's not accurate. Zombies are, traditionally, lurching wanderers. But not here. When they come for you, you'd better have your track shoes on.
The same can't be said for the movie, which is deadly slow, as if Levine was worried teenagers might miss the jokes, the allusions and the “message” if he went too fast. He landed Malkovich as his semi-villain, and got nothing funny out of him. At least Rob Corddry (as a zombie “friend”) makes a funny, wordless impression. He and Hoult deliver the simple, affecting message of Marion's novel, and do it with humor.
Don't judge a corpse by his cover.
Roger Moore is a film critic for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Holidays offer the gift of plenty of new films
- DVD reviews: ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie,’ ‘No Escape’ and ‘American Ultra’
- Review: ‘McQueen’ takes a look under hood of a legend
- Former editor hopes ‘Spotlight’ gives newspapers a boost
- Review: ‘The Assassin’ is a visual knockout set in ancient China
- Review: ‘Wonders’ more about mood than the plot
- Review: ‘Victor Frankenstein’ is a mashed-up mess