A romantic zombie dramedy may not sit well with some, but for those willing to endure the zombies-eating-people scenes, Warm Bodies offers a surprisingly amusing, even somewhat moving, viewing experience.
Eight years after a zombie virus has virtually destroyed civilization, the last surviving humans fortify themselves inside a massive compound. On a foraging expedition outside the walls, 20-something Julie (Teresa Palmer) and her friends encounter a pack of zombies with disastrous results, though an astonishingly infatuated 20-something male zombie (Nicholas Hoult) spares Julie’s life.
Unlike most walking corpses, this zombie possesses some residue of humanity, or as Miracle Max from The Princess Bride might say, the guy is only “mostly dead.” His narrated thoughts open a window into his mind, which is considerably more lucid than his attempts at speech. Though he recalls virtually nothing from his pre-infected life, except that his name begins with an R, he maintains a home for himself in an old passenger jet, where he keeps collections of old records and other knick-knacks. He even has a best friend named M (comedian Rob Corddry), with whom he occasionally makes grunt-filled conversation.
Initially puzzled and fascinated by the concept of a zombie with self-awareness and concern for others, Julie finds herself becoming increasingly fond of R as well. Their budding relationship appears to have all the earmarks of a star-crossed romance. And if their names are not suggestive enough, screenwriter and director Jonathan Levine throws in a balcony scene for good measure.
From a comedic angle, this mish-mash of genres (rated PG-13 for zombie violence and some strong language) generally works. Levine tries to keep a relatively light tone, such as when R warns the audience to look away while he eats someone or when he repeatedly thinks to himself “don’t be creepy, don’t be creepy” when he is around Julie. Dramatically, the film never goes far beyond a surface-level exploration of the characters and their relationships. For a diverting piece of relatively mindless entertainment, little more is needed.