Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies

2013, PG-13, 98 min. Directed by Jonathan Levine. Starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco, John Malkovich.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Feb. 1, 2013

“What am I doing with myself? Why can't I connect with people?” These are the sort of questions that turn humans sleepless and despairing. The twist of Warm Bodies is that the same questions keep zombies up at night, too.

Well, one zombie, at least: Red-hoodied, decomposing R (Hoult) can’t remember his first name or string together a complete sentence, but he’s still chasing feelings and a reason to live beyond finding his next dish of brains to feast on. He finds that reason on a hunting trip with his best friend, M (Corddry), and other walking dead, when he spares the life of human Julie (Palmer) and then protects her from less scrupulous zombies. Ferreted away in the abandoned commercial airliner he’s made his home, R plays her LPs that convey the words he can’t articulate. Little by little, the undead boy and beating-heart girl warm to one another.

To call Warm Bodies a zombie romantic-comedy is both accurate and reductive. The horror is largely goreless, although the film doesn’t shy from R’s innate bloodlust, and there are zombies-plus here – skeletal things called Bonies – that regularly supply jolts of terror. The romance develops tentatively and tenderly, informed by the couple’s mutual longing for a simpler, more visceral experience. And the comedy feels rooted in character, not simply coasting on that which is built into the zom-rom-com-har! premise.

Working from the source novel by Isaac Marion (see “Happy Accidents,” Feb. 1, for more about Marion’s original idea and its transition to screen), writer/director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Wackness) has created that rare thing in modern studio moviemaking – a consequential universe. Hits hurt. People die. Small gestures of kindness somersault into bigger things. R spends the first half of the film feeding on the pocketed brains of Julie’s dead friend, and that fact is more gruesome and compelling than any elaborately staged zombie-Boney-human throwdown.

With 50/50, his last stint in the director’s chair, Levine upended convention to make a feel-good cancer movie. He’s still defying expectations: In animating the inner workings of the undead, he’s made a movie that is both clever and heartfelt.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Warm Bodies
From the Vaults: Balancing Acts
From the Vaults: Balancing Acts
Jonathan Levine has become the go-to guy for tonally adroit filmmaking

Marjorie Baumgarten, Feb. 1, 2013

More Jonathan Levine Films
Long Shot
Timely political rom-com finds new common ground for opposites attracting each other

Kimberley Jones, May 3, 2019

A mother/daughter vacation from hell

Steve Davis, May 12, 2017

More by Kimberley Jones
We Have an Issue: “Bad Girls” Make Waves
We Have an Issue: “Bad Girls” Make Waves
On photographing Pleasure Venom's Audrey Campbell, and remembering the late singer-songwriter Jo Carol Pierce

Dec. 9, 2022

10 Holiday Treats for Dogs (and Their Humans)
10 Holiday Treats for Dogs (and Their Humans)
Local artists and artisans putting pets first

Dec. 2, 2022


Warm Bodies, Jonathan Levine, Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco, John Malkovich

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle