Friday, February 1, 2013

Warm Bodies [2013]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  Chicago Sun-Times (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (A. Shaw) review
Chicago Sun-Times (R. Roeper) review
AVClub (T. Robinson) review

Warm Bodies (screenplay and directed by Jonathan Levine, based on the novel by Isaac Marion) is a surprisingly gentle "post-Apocalyptic" teen oriented love-story between a young zombie who's still trying really hard "to communicate" but, among other things, can only remember that his name had once begun with the letter "R" (played by Nicholas Hoult) and a cute teenage/young adult girl named Julie (played by Teresa Palmer) with a "super protective dad" (played by John Malkovich).  Readers, what do these names remind you of...? ;-)

Now Julie's dad was the military officer (National Guard?) responsible for defending what's left of their town and he did so by building AN ENORMOUS WALL around it to keep the remaining healthy humans inside the walled-off city and the infected flesh/brain-eating zombies outside.  HOWEVER, every so often, he (a necessarily older/middle-aged military commander) had to allow his necessarily younger "soldiers"/"charges" (including his daughter and her other universally militarily trained friends...) pass outside the walls (in foraging parties) to search for needed supplies so that the inhabitants from walled-off city could continue to survive.  Here the analogy may not be pefect, but once again, Readers, what contemporary situation does the predicament Julie, Julie's dad and the rest of the surviving humans in the completely "walled off city"_kinda_ remind you of?

Well during one of those "military" incursions/excursions, "R" runs into Julie and after killing Julie's boyfriend (played by Dave Franco) and then necessarily "eating his brain" (after all, that's how zombies feed themselves) "falls in love" with Julie abducting (but not killing) her.  The rest of the film unspools from there.

Among what both Julie and "R" discover is that "R's" zombified condition IS REVERSIBLE.  The experience of compassion makes "R's" heart and then of his best friend "M's" (played by Rob Corddry) beat again.  This excites, above all Julie's best friend Nora (played by Analeigh Tipton).  Like all the young people of her town, Nora's had to go through military training and carry weapons to defend the town from zombies, but what she always really wanted to be was "to be a nurse."  Now "zombieism" proved to be a TREATABLE CONDITION.

However, things are still not that easy.  There are the "recently zombified people" and there are the "hard-core zombified" people called "bonies" (all that's left of them are ligaments and bones even though they are as hungry for human flesh/brains as the others) who "R" introduces as "those zombified people who just gave up hope."  These "bonies" still have to be dealt with...

Anyway, while not a perfect parable about compassion/reconciliation -- the zombified people were still treated as only having been sick (victims) without having anything positive to offer ("healthy") humanity from their experience -- I can't but be in awe at the film's BEAUTIFUL, YOUTHFUL OPTIMISM.  Even "flesh/brain eating zombies" are redeemable.  How wonderful is that!

Finally, a note to Parents:  This, IMHO, is a completely appropriately rated PG-13 film.  While the zombies may still be a bit too frightening to smaller children, by the time one gets to the "tween age" they'd probably be able to handle it.  And it's just a nice story (and arguably _less violent_ and certainly with a happier ending) than the Shakespearean story that it's largely based on :-)


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