Just when you thought you couldn't get enough of zombies combing the post-apocalyptic landscape, in walks another herd titling the genre either backwards or forward, dependent on your point of view. So much so, that your next popcorn outing might just include walking dead sweethearts, just in time for Valentine's Day.
The "If I only had a heart," mantra from a movie of the last century has just been updated for our 21st Century sensibilities - and the title is a definite give-away as to how the zombies in "Warm Bodies" are going to adapt to their own end-of-the-world shuffle. That's right, the new sub-genre of "Rom-Zom-Com" (short for Romantic Zombie Comedy) is hitting theaters this month, and they're going to be wearing their hearts on their sleeves.
And if you're going to re-imagine an existing genre, it's always a good idea to harken back to the literary masters of the past for some recognizable plot lines that will enrich your story-telling. So any resemblance to Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet is purely intentional here.
Playing fast and furious with the zombie template, while drawing parallels to the bard's star-crossed lovers, Night of the Dead creator George Romero and director Jonathan Levine bring a whole new life to the undead that was first conceived by writer Isacc Marion.
According to critic Bob Mondello, "R who can only remember the first letter of his name (but what's in a name, right?) is a walking-dead (ringer for) Romeo who's dimly aware that his appetite for fresh brains is a handicap when he's around a pretty girl." Julie, comes complete with a nurse-like accomplice, while M is the Mercutio-like buddy that's always willing to do battle for his fellow dead-bro! It's "remarkable, when smart directors hold the Bard's mirror up to nature, what gets reflected," adds Mondello.
The plot follows a zombie epidemic where R rescues Julie from his flesh-eating compadres. As the two form a special relationship in their struggle for survival, R becomes increasingly more human, setting off the romance and comical chain of events that could be the beginning of bringing life back into the world.
The tale is one of poignant connections that proves to be transformative. The Zombie mechanism is no longer counter-point when you realize that comic relief is what makes us human, and pushes us closer together. So Warm Bodies won't creep you out in the traditional sense that other zombie movies did, but will instead make you feel more warm (and fuzzy, perhaps) about reaching out to others --and, perhaps be a wake-up for those cold bodies who inhabit this planet as to how they can also return to walking live. See you at the movies!