Do you ever wonder if zombies have feelings? No, me neither. But some guy wrote a book about it and now it’s a movie.
Yes, Warm Bodies is that quintessential zombie love story we’ve all been wishing for in some way or another since The Walking Dead made zombies the new vampires.
In fact, I feel bad for the makeup artists who now have to come up with a way to make being a zombie sexy, because they do… there’s no stopping the sexy zombie train after this one. It’s like when Wendy’s decided to release a one pound hamburger consisting entirely bacon and cheese – the idea is just too good.
Anyway, Warm Bodies follows R as he walks us through his life as a zombie. Mainly, he’s looking to connect with people better. But alas he’s a zombie and can’t really talk. The film struggles in the early going finding a way to set up its high concept premise. For one, it’s weird listening to a zombie who can barely string two words together eloquently muse about his experiences in a voiceover. In fact, it’s weird to hear a zombie talk at all. Warm Bodies plays a little fast and loose with the zombie mythology in order to make its central love story seem plausible and that’s bound to be a little jarring for fans of the genre (for instance, you don’t see a lot of zombies with record collections).
Likewise, the circumstances that bring R and Julie (the object of our undead friend’s affections) together long enough to spark a friendship are riddled with plot holes. Romeo and Juliet with zombies is great in theory (that theory being that everything is better with zombies), but it’s obvious that no one was really sure how to get there and as a result the execution leaves something to be desired.
I don’t want to get too negative though, because once you get past those initial details the film can actually be quite endearing. Turns out zombie love is inherently quite fun. And even some of the films hokier elements can end up being remarkably moving. I think most would roll their eyes at the fact that a zombie relives the memories of the person whose brain they’re eating, but in truth these flashbacks end up being some of the most beautiful sequences in the movie.
And once our zombies start breaking out of their zombie shells it allows some of the movie’s better comedic actors the chance to show off their chops. Rob Corddry in particular (one of the classic Daily Show correspondents who now stars in Childrens Hospital) flounders in the early going until his character gains the ability to speak – as you might expect, inarticulate zombies don’t get a ton of great one liners – but he’s fantastic once he gets going and so marks the turning point of the movie.
Still, while Warm Bodies is funny, I would argue that it may not be funny enough. When you’re doing something as absurd as a zombie love story, you’ve got to play off that silliness a lot more than I think this film did. It’s sweet and there are times where it’s more than clever, but the truly laugh out loud moments are few and far between.
Nevertheless, if you can stomach you’re way through the contortions this film goes through to make its lofty premise work, there’s a lot to like about Warm Bodies. The cast is solid, the story is fun, and I can promise you that this is something you haven’t seen before. Now if only someone can explain to me just how exactly zombie sex works…