Genre: Romance/Comedy
Director: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, John Malkovich, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco, Cory Hardrict
RunTime: 1 hr 38 mins
Rating: PG13 (Violence and Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw
Official Website:

Opening Day: 14 March 2013

Synopsis:  A funny new twist on a classic love story, WARM BODIES is a poignant tale about the power of human connection. After a zombie epidemic, R (a highly unusual zombie) encounters Julie (a human survivor), and rescues her from a zombie attack. Julie sees that R is different from the other zombies, and as the two form a special relationship in their struggle for survival, R becomes increasingly more human – setting off an exciting, romantic, and often comical chain of events that begins to transform the other zombies and maybe even the whole lifeless world.

Movie Review:

You’ve got to admit – a romantic comedy about a sensitive zombie who falls in love with a teenage girl he rescues seems pretty damn intriguing. Not only does it sound like quite possibly one of the most inventive spins on the classic Romeo and Juliet love story, it also has the potential to breathe life (pun intended) into an increasingly staid genre that’s seen one too many ‘Resident Evil’ wannabes. Thankfully, in the sensitive hands of writer/ director Johnathan Levine, this genre-bending exercise referred to by some reviewers as a ‘zom-rom-com’ is funny, sweet and often quite charming.

In adapting Isaac Marion’s playful ‘what-if’ novel of dating the walking dead, Levine makes the astute choice of retaining the narrative device of R’s voiceover narration. R, by the way, is the name of our Romeo, who for the life of him, can only remember so much of his name. By virtue of his undead nature, he – like the rest of his kind – can no longer have proper conversations, so much so that what passes for speech is grunting and perhaps an occasional monosyllabic word.  

But R’s thoughts reveal a thinking and feeling human self on the inside, as he ponders over the meaninglessness and absurdities of his monotonous life. As Marion does, Levine gives R a wry sense of humour through his inner voice, and let’s just say it makes for pretty amusing stuff. Wit meets romance when Julie enters the picture, R’s Juliet whom he has a love-at-first-sight moment with on one of his regular hunts for food. While R’s hunting pals devour the rest of Julie’s company, R is compelled by something entirely unfamiliar to protect her – though that doesn’t extend to her duty-bound boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) whom he feasts on without any compunction.

R brings Julie back to his home, a 747 jet sitting on the tarmac of an abandoned airport where their unlikely bond of love develops in the course of the next few days largely over R’s extensive vinyl collection – including Bob Dylan’s Shelter from the Storm and Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart. “They sound alive,” R explains when Julie brands him a purist for his love of vinyl, and indeed, the subsequent days of both physical and emotional intimacy with a human being will awaken something long thought dead within him.

A lesser director might have turned the high-concept material into something contrived, but Levine – who in his earlier films ‘The Wackness’ and ‘50/50’ has demonstrated a knack for turning Hollywood’s romantic equation on its head – infuses R and Julie’s relationship with a delightfully offbeat sweetness. Sure, the use of alt-rock ain’t exactly original after indie rom-coms like ‘500 Days of Summer’, but there’s no denying that Levine’s choice of music here is a perfect mood-setter.

Completing the equation here are its two beautifully matched leading stars, Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. Better known as the boy in ‘About A Boy’ as well as Jack in Bryan Singer’s ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’, Hoult plays off his character’s inabilities for physical and emotional expression brilliantly, especially so in R’s interactions with Julie. Watching R struggle to express what he thinks inside is hilarious, and the film’s best moments are found in the middle act where it is just R and Julie together in the former’s 747. Palmer is equally pleasing as R’s opposite, exuding an infectious verve that complements Hoult’s deadpan act.

Unfortunately, that whimsical charm is somewhat lost as the film builds towards a more conventional action-packed climax pitting humans against the bad zombies, or otherwise referred to as ‘Boneys’. Those familiar with the book should know that Levine has cut out several scenes that emphasise the complex relationship between Julie and her single-minded authority figure of a father General Grigio (John Malkovich), diminishing the poignancy of a finale meant to give new meaning to the age-old adage about the power of love.

Yet even though it does lose dramatic momentum when transiting from comedy to action, there is more than enough quirky appeal in this light-hearted post-apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet spin to ensure that you will not be left cold. As is evident from its schmaltzy fairytale ending alone, the strength of this adaptation lies too with its cast, including luminous supporting turns by the likes of Rob Coddry as R’s buddy M and Analeigh Tiption as Julie’s best friend Nora. Oh, it also earns extra marks for its smart pop-culture references, most evidently in its use of a balcony scene between R and Julie. 

Movie Rating:

(Funny, sweet and often quite charming, this genre mashup – otherwise known as a ‘zom-rom-com’ – is a lively post-apocalyptic spin on a Romeo and Juliet love story that will leave you with a warm smile)

Review by Gabriel Chong

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