warm bodies

Warm Bodies

Nicholas Hoult

Directed by Jonathan Levine
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 2
Community: star rating
5 2 0
February 1, 2013

There's a problem. By that I mean how can Hollywood make zombies the new vampires? A vamp can be dark, mysterious and romantic (see Twilight). A lurching, hollow-eyed zombie walks around with oozing pustules and rotting flesh (see The Walking Dead). Who wants to hit on that? Warm Bodies solves that problem. Or at least it tries. Nicholas Hoult, the lead zombie, is an extremely appealing actor. Check out Netflix to watch him grow from child (About a Boy) to adult (A Single Man, X-Men: First Class). Anyway, Hoult is charm personified as R (a living-dead hottie who can't remember the rest of his name). R communicates in grunts with his fellow zombies, including M (Rob Corddry, very good). But writer-director Jonathan Levine (50/50) wisely borrows from Isaac Marion's novel,and has R narrate the action in the voice of a clued-in teen with a wiseass sense of humor. R and his dead buddies hang at an airport, where R uses an abandoned jet to horde souvenirs and a record collection that includes Springsteen's "Hungry Heart." R likes his music analog ("it sounds more alive"). On a raid, the zombies attack some human teens. R chows down on the brains of a dude named Perry (Dave Franco) and absorbs his memories. Say what? Look, I never promised logic. This draws R to Julie (Teresa Palmer), Perry's girlfriend. Julie is also the daughter of Gen. Grigio (John Malkovich in paycheck mode), leader of the survivors. Julie's a rebel. She doesn't waste time grieving for Perry. In short order she's cozying up to R in his airplane and letting him teach her how to walk dead to stay alive. Of course, they fall hard. R doesn¹t even want to eat her brains. That's love. It's the romantic angle that will probably give Warm Bodies box-office ju-ju from Super Bowl weekend to Valentine's Day. You could do worse. There¹s a good deal of fun before the movie sells its cheeky soul to the gods of tween goo. It doesn't help that the Bonies, computer-generated zombie skeletons, can't generate a decent scare. The script is too primly PG-13 to really go for it. Warm Bodies even suggests that true love can help the right zombie grow a new heart. That¹s a con job that makes Bodies lukewarm at best.

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