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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Warm Bodies | Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, John Malkovich | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
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Warm Bodies | Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, John Malkovich | Review

As it turns out, zombies are NOT created equal, and it’s OK to discriminate against the skinless “bonies” as they’re called in the only slightly futuristic Warm Bodies.

Narrated by R (Nicholas Hoult) a zombie himself, the film tells the tale of a world separated by walls. On the inside are the humans, protecting themselves under military rule from the outside, populated by two types of zombies, all of them flesh-eating.

R is a recent zombie, still humanoid in appearance, who doesn’t remember how he got that way and finds it odd that he has any type of internal dialogue with himself at all. It’s through R’s observations and explanations that we learn of the bonies, veteran zombies who have taken to eating their own flesh until they are vicious, fast-moving skeletons, all teeth and roar.

Zombies like to hang out at the airport; it’s a memory thing. There, the humanoid types shuffle around slowly, always hungry, and always looking like they are trying to remember something.

R stays in a deserted airliner when he’s not shuffling around with the others, including his best friend M (Rob Corddry). When he rescues human intruder Julie (Teresa Palmer) during a raid on the airport one day, R finds that he has *gasp* feelings for her. First, though, he munches on her boyfriend Perry’s (Dave Franco) brain for a big helping of memories. Can zombies love? R is confused, but soon he and Julie are besties, braving all sorts of elements that would keep them apart i.e. both types of zombies, her dad (John Malkovich) and R’s own zombie mannerisms that will get him shot on sight as he enters Julie’s world.

Nicholas Hoult plays R with a wide-eyed, almost clueless anxiety, not usually associated with zombies – more appetite than angst is usually the drill. Teresa Palmer inhabits the Julie character adequately and Rob Corddry puts a literal heart into M for a surprisingly effective character conflict. John Malkovich is the paranoid badass you’ve seen him play in lots of other films.

Writer-director Jonathan Levine (50/50) adapted the screenplay from the Isaac Marion bestseller and shows us just enough of an original concept to get us hooked, then insists on putting silly, cheap shot humor into the mix, losing ground faster than the scurrying bonies can run.

When Warm Bodies works it is a surprisingly fresh take on the zombie legend. Unfortunately, that’s only about 20 cumulative minutes of the film. The rest of the time it focuses on the teen romance and the requisite discomfort it causes R as he watches Julie undress, as he worries about his appearance and her father’s reaction. One cheap laugh comes when M drops the F bomb. Hardly cerebral – and aren’t brains central to a zombie flick?

Injecting the mundane into the unique makes Warm Bodies a disappointing foray into the world of the “loving” dead.

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