Warm Bodies

Directed By: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, Cory Hardrict, and Analeigh Tipton

Zombie movies are misses more often than hits.  We get so many movies about these undead terrors that are as lifeless and mindless as the walking dead themselves.  With countless films in the genre, it's got to be terribly difficult to think outside the box and pull together a fresh, innovative story.  However, director Jonathan Levine manages to do so with teen zombie romance-comedy Warm Bodies.

Eight years ago, a plague like no other ravaged mankind, and the apocalypse began.  Led by their fearless commander General Grigio (John Malkovich), the surviving men and women live in the center of a major city insulated by a massive wall.  Every now and then, they need to venture out into other parts of the city for supplies and medicine.  Today, the general's daughter Julie (Teresa Palmer), her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco), her best friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton), and some others are going out to get some medicine for the people.  Armed with only guns and their training, they enter the vicious world of the undead.

R (Nicholas Hoult), a nameless zombie, lives at the airport with his fellow zombies.  Because these undead corpses don't talk, dream, or feel anything, R is living a pretty boring afterlife.  He has almost-conversations with his best friend M (Rob Corddry) and slowly walks around the airport where he lives.  One day, R and his pale friends get hungry and go out into the city to satiate their taste for human flesh.  They find Julie and her friends and have one bloody feast.  Most of Julie's friends end up on the zombie dinner menu.  When R spots Julie, he feels something different and begins to change.  After eating the brains of her boyfriend Perry, R decides to keep Julie safe.  This cold body somehow has a warm heart.  The bonies, zombie skeletons who have given up and are beyond saving, don't take too kindly to this.

Warm Bodies is an intensely creative film that flips the traditional zombie movie on its head and offers up something warm and fuzzy.  With its fairly unique storyline, it's humorous.  With Nicholas Hoult leading the pack, it's well-acted.  All in all, director Jonathan Levine solidly delivers a fun romp about an unlikely romance between a girl and a corpse (with an impressive makeup job).  It’s a welcome film at a time of year when theaters are mostly filled with awful B movies.

Levine creates a consistently humorous film with Warm Bodies.  Because we're dealing with zombies, most of the humor is nonverbal in nature.  Levine leverages his unique storyline with speech-impaired, slow zombies to set up some creative comedic arcs, and this pays dividends for us as moviegoers.  Beyond this, Nicholas Hoult, Rob Corddry, and Analeigh Tipton offer up a healthy dose of verbal humor.  Hoult's narration provides some humorous context to his interactions with Teresa Palmer's Julie.  Though he doesn't speak much, Rob Corddry uses his few words to offer his usual irreverent brand of humor.  Analeigh Tipton has very little screen time but uses it to the best of her ability with plenty of funny quips about the zombies trying to eat her.

Nicholas Hoult gives a solid performance as R that is complemented by his character's narration of the film.  He has a way of giving all the grunting, groaning, and shrugs real meaning beyond the obvious fact that he's craving human flesh.  He makes his zombie someone who can communicate more than the fact that he is undead even when he can only utter a syllable of a word.  Hoult oozes with so much personality even when he can't really show it.  When he absolutely cannot convey something, his narration fills the void and keeps the audience in the loop.  Altogether, he gives us a surprisingly personable zombie.

Overall, Warm Bodies is a fun film to kick off February.  With some solid storytelling and enjoyable performances, Levine delivers a charming little movie.  While most people are getting ready for the Super Bowl this weekend, it wouldn't hurt to start popping bottles a little early for this one.  Warm Bodies gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.