I know, how did I get so lucky to see a movie that isn't out for more than a month? Just lucky, I guess.
Full disclosure: I have not read WARM BODIES, but now I definitely want to. Everyone knows I love zombies, yes? And I know that zombies are approaching "vampire-levels" of pop culture saturation, but I don't care. As long as people can put a new twist on the zombie idea, I will keep lining up for more.
The film presented an interesting concept: R, a zombie in a post-apocalyptic world, is going through an existential crisis. He can't remember anything about his former life, not even his full name. He spends his days shuffling aimlessly through the airport and grunting at his only friend, M, wishing he were better able to communicate the thoughts that are running through his head. He explains that the reason zombies love brains so much is because when you eat a brain, you experience all your victim's memories and emotions, and for a moment you feel human again.
But when Z eats the brains of Percy, he falls in love with Percy's girlfriend, Julie.* He saves Julie from his fellow zombies, including M, and the two of them hide out in an abandoned 747 until R can take Julie back to her human compound.
The more time R spends with Julie, the more human (and less zombie) he becomes. The only trouble is, he got that way by killing her boyfriend.
Now, despite a great concept, this isn't a perfect movie. I mean, R's inner-dialogue is funny, but you are staring at R's expressionless face for most of the movie. There is an inherent limitation on an actor's abilities when the direction is literally, "Look sad, but zombie-sad. So not that sad. Maybe a little tired. Yeah, just look tired." Nicholas Hoult did the best he could, but really how much can you do when you're a zombie?
Perhaps that's why I felt like every actor's performance was (pardon the pun) a little lifeless.
Julie didn't seem quite sad enough to be a bereft girlfriend, or tough enough to be a zombie apocalypse survivor. She seemed a little dim, and very prone to making Dumb Blonde Movie Mistakes. On one hand, I like what that revealed about how lifeless existence had gotten even for the survivors, but doesn't make for super compelling cinema. Oh my, she's moping again. How fascinating.
John Malkovich (as Julie's dad and the human generalissimo) didn't seem Malkovichy enough. I mean, c'mon man, you're John Malkovich. Chew some scenery or move aside and let Pacino slum it up!
The best characters by far were Julie's friend Nora and R's friend M, mostly because they were appropriately absurd in (what I thought was supposed to be) an absurdist comedy.
So should you go see Warm Bodies? Yes if you love zombies and off-beat comedies. No if you're squeamish (the movie isn't terribly bloody, but there is one brain-eating scene you'd need a tough stomach to get through) or think $7 is too high a price to pay for a pretty weird comedy. If you're on the fence, I would give this one two-thumbs up for a RedBoxin.
* (Confession time: It took me almost until the end of the movie to
realize R + Julie ... OH, I GOT IT, MOVIE GUYS!
To be fair, I think
that's a lot easier to catch in a book. It's not like R refers to
himself as R during his narration.)