Movie review: Warm Bodies

By Columbus Alive
From the January 31, 2013 edition

Move over, sparkly vampires! The zombies are rising … to the top of the teen romance heap. Hey, the undead need love, too.

Fear not, “Warm Bodies” has a lot more humor than melodrama. It has plenty of fun with the premise of pulse-crossed lovers, and, yeah, it’s even got a surprising amount of heart.

Our narrator (Nicholas Hoult) is known only as “R.” He can’t remember the rest of his name, which is the sort of thing that happens when you’re a zombie. #zombieworldproblems

It’s been eight years since a standard zombie apocalypse of unnamed origin occurred. R spends his time wandering around a decaying airport with other zombies, including his best pal, M (Rob Corddry).

A violent encounter with some humans brings together R and Julie (Teresa Palmer), the fiery and fetching daughter of the leader of the anti-zombie forces (John Malkovich).

R finds a strange stirring in his non-beating heart. He rescues Julie and brings her to his airport home. Awkward zombie romance ensues.

“Bodies,” based on a novel by Isaac Marion, has wit and warmth. The “Romeo and Juliet” analogy seems a bit obvious, but, eh, let’s roll with it.

R’s sharp internal narration versus his atypical zombie groaning and moaning plays nicely onscreen, as does the self-aware parody of the whole thing. (“God, we move slow,” R laments.)

One knock on the movie for zombie aficionados: The PG-13 zombie violence really pulls punches from what you might expect. It sometimes feels like you’re watching a TV edit of “Dawn of the Dead.”

But the zombie crowd isn’t necessarily the target market, and if this sways some Twi-hards, well, they’ll be better for it.

Hoult is winning as R, particularly when playing up the awkwardness of young courtship as complicated by the unbearable lightness of being a zombie.

It’s certainly winning, but also could have been better. There’s fun to be had with zombie lore, but it can’t hold a candle to, say, “Zombieland.” And the romance sometimes teeters toward the eye-rolling side, though it’s generally sweet enough to pull it off.

But if you’re looking for the perfect zombie date movie — and I know you are — “Warm Bodies” more than delivers. Let’s stick a stake in the vampires.