out of Five
Running time: 97
Inventive and frequently very funny zomcom with a sharp script and a pair of terrific performances from Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer, although zombie movie fans might feel a little cheated in the gore department.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Jonathan Levine (from the book by Isaac Marion), Warm Bodies is set in a post-apocalypse world populated by zombies, a few remaining humans and fierce skeletal post-zombie creatures called ‘bonies’. When R (Nicholas Hoult), a sensitive zombie with an interior monologue, spots human Julie (Teresa Palmer) he falls instantly in love with her and ends up saving her from a zombie attack. There's only one problem: he's just eaten her boyfriend (Dave
Franco) and keeps surreptitiously dipping into a stashed handful of his brains in order to gain his memories.
However, as Julie starts to develop feelings for him, R feels his humanity slowly returning, so the pair of them attempt to stop Julie's militaristic father (John Malkovich) from wiping out the remaining zombie population. Meanwhile, R's best friend M (Rob Corddry) is somehow changed by witnessing R and Julie's relationship and leads a zombie uprising against the bonies.
Hoult is excellent, managing to invest R with personality and generating engaging chemistry with Palmer, despite being, well, a zombie (though his very funny interior monologue does a lot of the work). Palmer (looking more than ever like a blonde Kristen Stewart) is equally good, delivering a feisty, likeable performance that should substantially increase her fanbase, while there's strong support from Malkovich, Corddry (whose casting is, itself, a brilliant in-joke, since Corddry is best known for wise-cracking best friend roles) and Analeigh Tipton as Julie's human friend Nora.
Levine's inventive script is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, cleverly putting a zombie-themed spin on several romcom staples, such as the awkward 'meet the girlfriend's father' scene, the makeover scene and so on. There's even a balcony scene, as befits ‘R and Julie’. The film also has a lot of fun with the soundtrack; one of the best jokes has zombie R defending his vinyl collection (‘Sounds...better...’) and there's an inspired use of Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman.
The only real problem is that the film's 12A rating means there's almost no gore content (the brain-eating happens largely offscreen), so the film is much more skewed towards comedy than horror, despite a couple of effective jumpy moments early on. On a similar note, zombie purists are likely to object to the film's denouement, though the flipside of that is that Warm Bodies is at least providing something different in that respect (as well as generating some big laughs along the way).
Warm Bodies is a hugely enjoyable, frequently inventive zomcom with a script that's laugh-out-loud funny and a pair of terrific performances from Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. Recommended.