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‘Warm Bodies': a lukewarm film

John Thomas Staff Writer

I was feeling bitter when I walked into the theater last Saturday afternoon. If I’m going to see only one film during the weekend I like to do popcorn and soda pop, the whole saccharine deal. My sprite wasn’t mixed correctly, which might sound like misplaced pretension but I promise you I speak the truth, and the popcorn was burnt, leaving the framework in which I was about to view Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies in a cynical, woe begotten state.  There was also an uncomfortable amount of tweens, creating a sound storm that I was pretty sure wouldn’t quiet down just because a movie they and their fellow patrons had paid upwards of ten dollars to see, had started playing. Things looked grim, very grim.

That mindset wouldn’t grasp me for too long, as my figurative shades transformed to rose-colored glasses through the mystical power of Tyler Perry a few minutes into the previews’ reel.  Perry has a new film coming out called “Temptations: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” which looks, swear to god, to be a version of “The Social Network,” if Fincher’s modern classic had been produced for Lifetime.  With the impending cinematic doom that Temptations’ trailer signified, I decided savor the few movie theater experiences I had left. Throwing the pessimism espoused by earlier events to the wind, I set out to watch Warm Bodies with a clear mind and a full heart.

“Warm Bodies” is a cruel picture. It begins with a melancholic (I use that word specifically instead of black) comic sensibility. I found the zombie teen heartthrob boy genius, well a genius by undead standards, protagonist’s inner monologues to be on point, and a great riff on an old trope. If you have a hard time finding the parallels between a zombie’s existence and the average outsider teenager’s, “Warm Bodies” is definitely not the film for you. There are pretty explicit parallels between R’s airport home and high school. I thought the most compelling question pondered by R in the film was whether or not there really was anything unique about him. Sure, he can speak and think a little bit unlike the average corpse, but does that validate him as better than the rest? It’s disappointing that this point is brought up and squashed early in the film, and it doesn’t even have that much compatibility with the rest of the film.

Almost immediately when R meets his fated love Lillie, we know that this changes everything. Not just for the lovebirds, but their entire world. One of my favorite things about “Zombieland,” a pioneering film in the zombie comedy genre as I’m sure you know, was that the world wasn’t a happy place at the end of the movie. Sure, everyone survived, but they were surely about to run into another s--storm in a matter of time.

While the climax and inventive, but sickening plot are the elements that kill the flick, I was most disappointed by the lack of comedy after the first act. Well, there are a couple of scenes like when they put make-up on R that are supposed to make you laugh (Cause he’s a guy!), they are sectioned off from the rest of the film. This erroneous decision turns “Warm Bodies” into a choppy mess. With what should have been a truly humorous premise, it’s a real wonder why it couldn’t illicit more than a couple handfuls of laughs. Especially when you consider that Rob Corddry, one of the funniest people alive today, was cast as R’s best friend. Even with my Tyler Perry apocalypse inspired last vestiges of hope invested into this film, “Warm Bodies” was an utterly disappointing film.

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