It's the end of the world, you fall in love with a zombie, bring him home to your dad, who tries to kill him. We've all been there right? Parents just don't understand.
Yes, “Warm Bodies” takes a fun, original premise with an unapologetically gory zombie love story that was also a meditation on the nature of humanity and turns it into something...well, that you've seen before. Luckily, its premise, unusual love story, and moments of humor just barely save it from being average. But unfortunately, it doesn't make what should be a complicated situation and dilemma in the post-apocalyptic world the one-dimensional characters live in feel anything other than shamefully clean and one-sided.
The zombie with a heart is simply known as R (Nicholas Hoult). He can't remember his name, age, or who he was, or really anything about his life before he became what he is. He's pale, sullen, unable to say much of anything besides various grunting sounds. Basically, a typical teenager, only with a valid excuse: he needs to consume human flesh, or he'll die.
Ahh, but he's also a tortured soul who's different from the rest of the monsters. He's conflicted about what he has to do to survive, but doesn't feel he has a choice. He also seems capable of something more: at the airport that serves as zombie headquarters, he makes something of a home in an abandoned airplane which he fills with various objects that strike his fancy, some being a few records that comprise some of the film's 80's soundtrack.
Everything changes the day he comes across a group of teenagers who have been sent from the heavily guarded and walled-off human enclave to forage for some necessary supplies. R and his friends find and attack them, and R eats the brain of the group leader Perry (Dave Franco), since eating brains apparently allows him to experience his victim's memories and actually get high off them. He then sees memories of Perry's relationship with Julie (Teresa Palmer), falls in love with her, and decides to bring her back to the airport.
Julie is understandably terrified, then shocked and intrigued by R's capacity for humanity, and a weirdly sweet relationship soon develops, as they bond over a shared love of vinyl and fast cars. Unfortunately, their relationship and the changes it triggers in R and the other zombies represents a threat to the creatures called Boneys, (think scarier super zombies) who like the world as it is and intend to keep it that way.
So when Julie and R leave the airport, the Boneys pursue them, and he and Julie have to not only escape and warn the humans in the enclave, who are understandably reluctant to believe that the zombies who have been clamoring for their brains are “becoming vegan.” Oh, and R also has to somehow get on the good side of Julie's father General Grigio (John Malkovich), who seems rather unhappy that his daughter has fallen for a zombie.
Unfortunately, “Warm Bodies” almost stubbornly refuses to explore anything on a deeper level. So many things almost beg to be discussed: the nature of humanity, redemption, society, and choice itself. Heck, the issues practically come gift-wrapped. But the movie stays firmly in the black-and-white realm. As a result, everything feels almost too clean and easy, with strictly functional characters and an ending that feels a lot less heartfelt since there wasn't much struggle to get there. The journey is good, but it could've been great.