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Friday, April 19, 2013

"Warm Bodies" - warm fun!

I'm belatedly reviewing the movie "Warm Bodies" because it deserves note.

This is a funny and charming film modeled after Romeo and Juliet. "Julie" is a young woman who joins her colonel father fighting zombies who have taken over the world. "R" is a young zombie who finds his heart strangely stirring at the sight of Julie.

R rescues Julie from marauding zombies. The two of them form a tentative friendship in his home, an abandoned airliner. R shares his collections with Julie. She accuses him of being a hoarder but he defends his knick-knacks and vinyl records, which, he pantomimes and mumbles, seem "more alive."

The movie asks us, in an unassuming way, what it means to be human. The image of two people holding hands is a hint.

As in "Romeo and Juliet," there are gangs in this story: the humans; humanlike zombies similar to R; and skeletal zombies known as "Bonies."

Some of the humanlike zombies, like R, find their hearts also strangely stirring: when they see Julie and R holding hands, they halt an attack. The sight of an old movie poster of people holding hands further warms their hearts, which, like R's, begin to beat.

Beating hearts put them all in danger of the Bonies, who are beyond redemption and who seek living flesh and organs to munch. Julie and R's budding romance puts them in danger of her colonel father (a role made for John Malkovich), who refuses to believe that zombies can become rehumanized.

Nicholas Hoult winningly plays R. His tender blue eyes betray his humanity throughout, even when he's chomping on brains. Teresa Palmer plays Julie and she's believable and beautiful, although I felt distracted occasionally by what seemed to be a Valley girl accent.

What made this movie such a pleasure for me was the ongoing black humor provided by R's running voice-overs. An example: the viewer hears R cautioning himself "Don't act creepy, don't act creepy" as he tries to persuade Julie that she's in no danger from him.

The other thing I loved about the film was its overwhelming sweetness. It captures the pain of love and the tender clumsiness of one who is struggling against odds to win the heart of another.

Grossness rating: Okay. At one point, R and his pals dine on their recently-killed victims, and R cautions the viewer to look away (I did). "Warm Bodies" was not too gross for me, except for that one scene where I averted my eyes (thanks for the warning, R). For comparison, I find the entrails too much for me in the cable TV show "The Walking Dead," and I almost vomited watching "Night of the Living Dead."

Teacher Gail Grade: B plus

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