It’s a rare occurrence that a zombie comedy manages to stagger into theaters. It’s even rarer for the zombie comedy to be of the romantic type, and even much more of an oddity for the film to take the perspective of a zombie.
Warm Bodies is a romantic zom-com from the perspective of a zombie. With that said, there are several liberties that occur to make the perspective possible and entertaining. If you are a stickler on zombie mythology and like it only when zombies walk at a slow pace and remain essentially brain-dead, then this is not for you. Secondly, if you are the type that actively defends modern zombie mythology then you should also take note on all the liberties George Ramiro took even in his first film. Afterall, zombie mythology is no more factual than vampires, and vampire mythology is saturated with fictitious hyperbole stemmed from non-sense folktales.
Warm Bodies follows a very typical romantic comedy story arch. Woman is saved, and brought into the man’s home where she is essentially a stranger in a new land. The man fails to keep her hidden, and his friends and family do not like her, but his perseverance eventually wins them over. Then the reversal occurs to where the man is now taken into the woman’s world… A very typical pattern observed in over dozens of romantic stories from Greek myths to Modern film. The story is so predictable that anyone familiar with romantic comedies will know how the next scene will play out. Is this bad? Yes, and no.
While Warm Bodies suffers from its predictable narration, it offers something different to the mix that still remains on the fringe. Zombies seem to only have one place in film, and that’s to die, even though their already dead. Because zombie traditional have very little screen time, and are rather brainless and one-dimensional, the film has to take several liberties to render a zombie from a reanimated corpse that just simply lumbers and rots, to a reanimated corpse that lumbers, sort of thinks, and tries to interact with the environment. I really do detest that fact that some people take zombie mythology all too seriously. To the very core, Warm Bodies is a comedy, a romantic comedy, and the zombie element is used in a way to make it possible for story telling. It would be impossible for a one-dimensional rotter to do anything other than die. Besides, we’re talking about fictitious creatures that are dead bodies that can lumber and mumble without a brain, heart, lungs, and blood flow.
The strengths for Warm Bodies are R’s quirky and funny narration, the interaction between R and his zombie friends, and the interaction between R and Julie. R’s narration provides witty commentary on how life could be as a zombie on an anecdotal basis, while the interaction bears the question if and how zombies would interact with one another over time. Then, of course, most of the film revolves around the interaction of R and Julie which is very similar to any romantic tale involving lovers from different and conflicting worlds. Julie, being a live and a survivor, was raised and trained to hate and kill zombies, and ironically, zombies apparently have just as much disdain for the living.
Like in any traditional romance involving mortal enemies, once Julie is introduced to R’s family and friends, a feud between the zombies and the even older zombies (bonies) begins, which serve as common enemy that forces the two conflicting sides (zombies and living) to unite. While a common goal is often a necessary component to have rival factions unite, the unification and alliance felt forced by the director and writers.
In summation, Warm Bodies is a light-hearted at life as a zombie spun for a romantic comedy that offers a little of both, but the clichéd and easily predictable narration hinders the experience, while making the absurd perspective easy to swallow for others. The movie is fun, as it is meant to be. Is it an oscar winner? No, of course not. Is it the best zom-com? No, but how many take the perspective of a reanimated corpse? Not a lot of competition there.
Final recommendation: Theaters if you like zom-com. Rent it if you don’t. It’s a fun and enjoyable flick, as it intended.
*For those zombie nerds that actively plan for a zombie apocalypse, if you can’t find empathy for zombies and aren’t flexible on how zombies are depicted (the make-up is really good), then don’t watch it. You’ll end up hating it as it deviates from typical zombie “mythology”.