One look is all it takes for sensitive shy guy “R” (Nicolas Hoult) to fall head over heels for blond beauty Julie (Teresa Palmer). Alas, there’s a wrinkle in their love connection: It’s the zombie apocalypse, and our hoodied hero has just made a meal out of the girl’s squeeze (Dave Franco). Impulse snacking aside, Hoult’s reanimated hipster is no mindless eating machine. As we learn from his droll internal monologue, there’s a decent person—and a heart, beating faintly—under all that pallid, decaying flesh. Attempting to protect Julie from the less enlightened members of the human-munching horde, R whisks her off to his abandoned-airport bachelor pad. The two bond over vinyl records and convertible joyrides, all the while tiptoeing around the untimely fate of her ex. And you thought Twilight’s undead courtship was creepy.
Speaking of Bella and Edward, it’s possible to read Warm Bodies as a darkly comic spin on the Stephenie Meyer franchise. (Palmer is a dead ringer for Kristen Stewart.) Then again, good luck ascribing a clear satirical agenda to Jonathan Levine’s tonally uneven zom-com, which suffers an identity crisis nearly as severe as its protagonist’s. One minute, R is munching on gray matter. The next, he’s sitting down for a jokey makeover montage. Warm Bodies wants us to believe in the transformative power of love, but what of Julie’s poor, devoured boyfriend? There’s Stockholm syndrome, and then there’s cozying up to the monster who ate your sweetheart.
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