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Billy Summers: "Warm Bodies" zombie flick is not to be taken seriously

Feb. 08, 2013 @ 11:56 AM

“Zombieland” without the Star Power…

The new comedy spoof of teen angst and horror movies has made it to the screen. It’s a lot of fun if you don’t take it too seriously. And there is NO way to take it seriously.

With almost no “name” stars is the cast (except John Malkovich) this movie will probably we a hit with the younger-than-20 crowd. Novelist Isaac Marion is certainly no Stephenie Meyer, but he does make Zombies (in my best Oprah Winfrey voice: FAVorite monster) fun again.

While “Zombieland” had Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray, as well as Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin to make it sweet, “Warm Bodies” director Jonathan Levine (who also wrote the screenplay) uses relatively fresh faces.

Nicholas Hoult ( “About a Boy,” “Clash of the Titans,” “X-Men: First Class”) is heartthrob zombie, R, a poor undead guy looking for love. He is wonderful in the part, and does the Jesse Eisenberg narration thing to the hilt.

His romantic opposite number, Julie, is played by Teresa Palmer (“I Am Number Four,” “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” “Take Me Home Tonight”) who looks exactly like a blonde Bella, without the annoying lip biting. She also reminds me a bit of Alicia Silverstone from times gone by.

John Malkovich (”Con Air,” “Being John Malkovich,” “The Killing Fields”) plays Daddy’s Girl, Julie’s…Daddy. But he is also the commander of the paramilitary zombie extinction unit, a bad sign for any young zombie date for his little angel.

Rob Corddry ( “The Daily Show,” “Children’s Hospital,” “Upright Citizen’s Brigade”) makes a great second tier showing as zombie second banana, M, lowballing his usual over-the-top acting just enough to not steal the scenes he appears in.

A couple of third tier performances are worth mentioning with Dave Franco ( “SuperBad,” “Fright Night,” “21 Jump Street”) human boyfriend, Perry and Analeigh Tipton ( “Crazy, Stupid Love,” “Hung,” “The Green Hornet”) as BFF Nora. Both give solid performances in their background roles.

But this is a story about Young Love. An undead Romeo and a cute-enough-to-raise-the-dead Juliet (it is no coincidence that their names are “R” and “Julie,” heck, there is even a “balcony” scene...)

It’s all played for laughs (or at least sentimental snickers) and not a whole lot of “Boo!” is inserted. The beginning is a bit creepy, but nowhere near “The Walking Dead” level and most is more of the Bill Murray as Undead Bill Murray from “Zombieland.”

The storyline is fine and the scenes are shot cheaply involving mostly an airport terminal and athletic field. The CGI (mainly the Harryhausen “bonies”) is meant to be theatrically cheesy and the only problem is the dialogue. Sometimes (naturally) it is hard to understand the zombie grunts and belches.

Hoult as Zombie is wonderful to watch, as well as Corddry, the former a lost soul attempting to looked more dazed than dead, and the latter channeling 1950’s and 60’s movie zombies that George Romero would have been proud of.

Palmer’s older-teen-in-conflicted-love performance is filled with “Twilight” style close-ups and batting of eyelashes, but she kicks butt when she has to. No wilting flower is she.

Go see this movie if you want a light, fresh comedy with clean language and situations, as well as simple romantic angles, topped off with a very non-scary horror theme. You’ll enjoy it, if you don’t take it seriously (but, I said that already)…

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.

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