Review: Warm Bodies (Twilight for Ironic Hearts)


According to Isaac Marion's book, the zombie apocalypse is the result of pervasive, crushing ennui. It’s only hinted at momentarily in the film (distracted holiday travelers bump into each other, absorbed by their smartphones) but in the book, the cause is reportedly clear…and seems a bit too fanciful to tip the scales of truth, justice, light and humanity. But this is a snarky teen romance, a comedy about being emo and noncommittal and falling for a girl who forces you out of that pattern.

R (Nicholas Hoult, About a Boy, A Single Man) is pasty, emaciated and slouchy, and his internal monologue has the sharply self-critical tone of a misunderstood teen love interest. Oh, if only he could express himself beyond this sub-literate groaning! His besty “M” (Rob Corddry) exchanges grunts with him at the airport bar while the undead masses scuffle about in aimless perpetuity and “bonies,” the fully degenerated form of the undead, menace them from the periphery.

When R and M head out for food, they find a small team of armed twentysomethings (some you’ll recall from 21 Jumpstreet and Damsels in Distress) raiding what’s left of America’s pharmacies for their surviving brethren. This is when R finds Julie (Teresa Palmer) and literally hears 80s power ballads.

Their love is preposterous but for all R's ambivalence and dissociative emotional disorder, his clammy corpse is warmed by her presence, and you know it's real because it happens as he’s eating her boyfriend. This is the point when R saves Julie from his fellow corpses and his protective instincts prove him a better mate than the guy he just slurped up. (No one said survival of the fittest was self-evident.)

In a casting gesture that feels like a perversion of Empire of the Sun, John Malkovich is the leader of the survivors, and he, like Lord Capulet, is unwilling to believe a boy from the other side (of death) can change his stripes—and it's hard not to side with him. Consider how many "zombies" you’ve met and how annoyingly self-absorbed they are—all R has on those guys is a supposedly end-times “disease” to justify his malaise. Though he's dead, he's retained his quirk: even zombiehood can't stop him from collecting vinyl or blu-rays or random tchotchkes. It couldn’t, because in this dystopia, teen (or post-teen) love is the antidote to the world’s trouble, and you can't find love without a little manic pixie.

Warm Bodies is perfectly charming, but naggingly unobserved, which will likely serve its teen audience just fine. While it’s true caring for someone is a magically powerful thing, I somehow think this “sensitive parable” took a little too much from Scott Pilgrim.

Sara Vizcarrondo's Latest Blog Entries:

Production for The Two Faces of January began in Athens in August of 2012 and the first day was a major event. Director Hussein Amini planned to stage the...
With a cue from Mike Figgis and the digital revolution (oh, the handheld video and the synth tracks), South Korean provocateur Kim Ki-Duk has returned to his...
Last month, writer/director Paul Mazursky passed away and in honor of the late filmmaker the Landmark Theatre’s Anniversary Classic Series will screen Mazursky...
Around the Block is an Aussie Dangerous Minds with a smarter tack on the racial divide. Then again, maybe it looks that way because it’s easier to see racism...
A horror with threads of gross out comedy, Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero knows very well it’s cheap but loves itself anyway. After Josh (Brandon Eaton) has a...

Warm Bodies Photo Gallery

More Warm Bodies News