Zombie rom-com Warm Bodies aims for the heart
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, and John Malkovich. Rated PG.
Warm Bodies is a whoppingly insignificant zombie rom-com clearly aimed at scraping up any cash the horror-lite crowd hasn’t already blown on Twilight.
The movie opens with Nicholas Hoult’s zombie character—later named just R because zombies make a lot of growling “arrrr” sounds—shuffling through a post-apocalypse airport while his voice-over narration describes the daily routine of the undead. He points out some “bonies”—mummified zombie corpses, animated by hokey CGI—which are a major part of the plot. “They’ll eat anything with a heartbeat,” R explains. “I mean, I will, too, but at least I’m conflicted about it.”
That’s supposed to be funny.
Eventually, R trudges to the airport bar and runs into his zombie best friend, M, played by Rob Corddry. Around this time, you might start to think, “Hey, if Corddry’s in it, it must be all right.” Not exactly.
The two buddies hook up with a few other zombies and start hunting humans, which is when R first spies Julie (Teresa Palmer), a blond zombie killer. He becomes fixated on her after gobbling her boyfriend’s grey matter, which transfers romantic memories to his rotting brain.
The rest of the film sees R trying to goofily woo Julie and protect her from other undead while—for no good reason—gradually becoming human again. He takes her to his crash pad on board one of the airport’s jets and plays John Waite’s ’80s hit “Missing You”, on vinyl. Hey, nobody said zombies had good taste.
Hoping to add to the hipness factor Corddry’s presence was meant to instill, the filmmakers recruited John Malkovich, who plays Julie’s father, a vengeful general bent on exterminating all zombies as payback for the killing of his wife. Will R win the hardass over and persuade his fellow flesh eaters to join the humans in battling the marauding bonies?