How nice to find young dead boys in this world emo enough not to devour the girls they love. The vampire Edward eschewed chewing on Bella throughout the Twilight saga. Now, as a zombie who goes by the name of R in the zomb-rom-com Warm Bodies, Nicholas Hoult graciously forswears chomping on Julie (Teresa Palmer), a pretty gal just trying to get by in a post-apocalyptic world. Which, considering that an undead fellow has got to eat, is pretty gentlemanly.
Warm Bodies is a funnier and pleasantly cheaper-grade movie than Twilight that aims to draw in both Bella & Edward lovers and haters. The film’s gooey romantic center concerns pretty R’s efforts to prove to pretty Julie that he’s got a particularly temperate heart for a walker, and Julie’s slow transformation from distrustful zombie-hunter to compassionate girlfriend. (The movie, written and directed with a light touch of mess by Jonathan Levine, is born of an online short story by Isaac Marion that became a novel and won the admiration of Twilight creator Stephenie Meyer.)
It’s the odd splatters of comedic business that make the time pass tolerably enough, and for that, four performances deserve a shout-out: X-Men ex-man Hoult does fun stuff conveying the frustration of a zombie who is kind of bored out of his skull with the whole shuffling and grunting thing; Rob Corddry makes an entertaining zombie buddy in exasperation; Crazy, Stupid Love‘s Analeigh Tipton — one of my one very favorite secret-weapon sylphs these days — makes every line fresh as Julie’s best friend; and then there’s John Malkovich. The old pro plays the leader of all who are still human on earth, an overlord who happens to be Julie’s father. At this point in the actor’s career, it is pretty well impossible to tell when Malkovich is camping it up, or just being John Malkovich. Under the end-of-civilization circumstances of Warm Bodies, he’s just the right guy for the job. B