What has the world of romance come to when vampires, werewolves and zombies have become the objects of girls’ desires? Can’t a regular guy cut it anymore when it comes to love?
If Warm Bodies is any indication of what girls really want in a boyfriend, then men are approaching romance in all the wrong ways. Forget the flowers, the chocolates, dinner or long walks on the beach and take a lesson in wooing from R (Nicholas Hoult). He’s a conflicted zombie who gets his girl by grunting, groping, dragging his feet and eating the brains of her dead boyfriend (Dave Franco).
Before meeting Julie (Teresa Palmer), R lumbers around a deserted airport concourse with the rest of the undead who’ve been locked outside the walls protecting the last surviving humans of an apocalyptic disaster. When opportunity arises, he lunches on mortals, preferring to dine on their brains, which gives him their memories.
After stumbling upon a group of young adult soldiers outside the safety zone, R makes a quick meal of Julie’s halfhearted boyfriend. Glimpses of hot and heavy kissing between the couple are seemingly all it takes for R to be instantly smitten with the feisty, gun-toting blonde. Smearing blood on her face to conceal her human smell, R tows Julie back to his bachelor’s pad inside an abandoned jet where he clumsily attempts to alleviate her fears of being eaten.
Meanwhile Julie’s father (John Malkovich) launches a search party to find his daughter, but by the time the tanks and armed soldiers roll down the street where R and Julie are hiding in a suburban home, she has succumbed to love—or the Stockholm Syndrome. Since the movie is a lowbrow adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, viewers will likely side with love rather than the mental disorder.
Despite the outcomes of past encounters with the flesheaters, Julie is convinced the lurching, pale-skinned corpse is becoming more humanlike—as are the rest of the zombies. If the idea seems laughable that’s good because this is after all a rom-com (releasing just in time for Valentines Day). And while many of the gruesome aspects of the undead are played for humor, some depictions of blood-covered jowls, close range gunshots, brain consumption and a knife in the chest fail to be funny.
Yet unlike so many scripts where the good girl brings the wild boy home to a disapproving father, the living characters in Warm Bodies have a profound and positive change on the walking dead instead of the other way around. Love, acceptance and a human connection appear to be all these bloodless beings need to restart the plasma and platelets flowing in their veins.
While Warm Bodies might be a notch up from most zombie movies, don’t expect this lifeless version of Romeo and Juliet to replace the Bard’s own words.