‘Warm Bodies’ warm hearts

Todd Miller | writer

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it’s time for theaters to get hit with a wave of romantic films to entertain couples. At the tip of this wave is “Warm Bodies,” an average romantic comedy with a new twist.

Poster for "Warm Bodies" (Summit Entertainment, 2013).

Poster for “Warm Bodies” (Summit Entertainment, 2013).

Based on the 2011 novel by Issac Marion, R (Nicholas Hoult) is your typical young man who has fallen in love with Julie (Teresa Palmer). R is trying to be a better person and show his feelings to Julie. There’s a catch: R is a zombie who craves the flesh and brains of living people, like Julie’s boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco). But Julie is special and sparks a change within R, making him different from his cold, dead counterparts.
Now, a zombie love story sounds silly, but the filmmakers have taken the tired genre and given it new life, so to speak. It’s a romantic comedy set after the zombie apocalypse and the result is fun and unique.
Humanizing zombies is nothing new. Take, for example, 2007’s “Wasting Away.”
Although a lot of effort went into the twist, little to nothing was left for the basic story.
Beyond the zombies, “Warm Bodies” is too much of a classic romance and the twist doesn’t always make up for tropes like Julie’s overbearing father (John Malkovich) or the classic misunderstanding that could foil the happy ending.
The supporting characters tend to be more likable than the main cast. R is good, but his friend, M (Rob Corddry) elicits more laughs. Same goes for Julie’s friend, Nora (Analeigh Tipton).
The use of the “bonies,” skeletal zombies that are “too far lost,” as antagonists rather than traditional zombies is clever, but their design seems stilted and weird. It could be because they are walking skeletons, but it’s still distracting.
The film exhibited great use of color. Memories, dreams and lively things are saturated with color while the “real world” and the zombie settings appear dilapidated. It makes for a clear distinction that the audience doesn’t need to think about.
Marco Beltrami (composer for the “Scream” franchise) includes all the appropriate sounds and songs for both a romance and a zombie apocalypse movie, mixing and matching them where appropriate.
Ultimately, though, the plot is underwhelming: too ridiculous to be taken seriously or ridiculous enough to be humorous.
If anyone is looking for a good romance movie, then “Warm Bodies” is a great pick for Valentine’s Day. If not, at least it’s not “Safe Haven.”

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