More Late Review with Stroke Bloke today, since the subject of this post will be shuffling out of theatres very shortly. If you follow me on the twitter or the Facebook, you may be aware that I was quite excited by the prospect of Warm Bodies:
Today, zom-rom-com, Warm Bodies. [Warning: Rank sentimentality, and zombies that run.And that’s just the review.] apoplectic.me/at-the-movies-…
— Ricky Brown (@ricky_ballboy) March 11, 2013
Dishy British star with a sound Yankee accent, cute female lead,well-designed posters all over the Brooklyn subway, and a tv campaign that, while giving up one of the best jokes in the flick (natch), raised a smile. What’s not to like?
Then the kicker of the premise: shuffling, slurring, brain-injury-suffering skinny bloke with faulty memory saved by love for/of cute, feisty chick. … and that’s how we found ourselves heading to the UA Court Street 12 on Thursday evening.
“I love previews”, I declared as we made ourselves comfortable. By the time we’d been subjected to a whole slate of ’em, though, I had to reverse that statement. I usually assume that someone, somewhere, has come to some conclusion about the sort of person I am, based on the movie I’ve chosen to watch. The brain compiling last night’s trailers had concluded that I was educationally sub-normal: Monsters University; Jack the Giant Slayer; Tyler Perry Presents Peeples; and so on.
Then, finally, the main feature began. Now, by the time a boy turns 38 and has experienced the blood, shit and snotters of a near-fatal traumatic brain injury, the time for sixth form cynicism has passed. Consciously or not, one starts finding the joy in life where one can. However, even for me, the opening minutes of Warm Bodies, in which Basil Exposition explains the bulk of the “modern-life-is-rubbish”, “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along” symbolism we’ll be watching for the next ninety-six minutes, are a little heavy handed.
Nevertheless, just over an hour-and-a-half later, I was so positively-disposed to this sweet-natured movie that those first minutes were merely confirmation that Warm Bodies fits into the great tradition of zombie movie as metaphor (from Day of the Dead, to 28 Days Later (if you’re OK with fast zombies), to Sean of the Dead. Even the John Malkovitch character shed his Malkovitch-ness in the face of honey nutty goodness of the main characters, so what hope was there for a sap like me? Even if an update to zombie canon, and a major plot point, has R falling in love with Julie because he’s eaten her boyfriend’s brain (which acts like a hallucinogenic drug for zombies, natch) mere feet from her terrified self.
What hope, when this was actually a movie about a stroke patient and the girl who helps bring him back to life? “Self-absorbed much, Stroke Bloke?” I imagine you typing below the line. Well, I retort, if it shuffles like a stroke patient, and slurs like a stroke patient, then it’s a stroke patient. And our protagonist shuffles and slurs exactly like a stroke patient. Seriously.
You may well have seen the advertised scene in which our hero guides his potential girlfriend past a horde of zombies by telling her to walk and groan like the Dead, before advising, as she overplays it, “Too… much….” Less funny, but more affecting, is the later scene in which she places her hand on his back and guides him through a crowd of the able-bodied. Just like a girl “blocking” for her strokey boyfriend. And did I mention his name is “R”?
But let’s get to the most anticipated question…. What part of the film got me to cry the hardest? Towards the end, as the Dead have begun the journey back to full life, Rob Couddry’s character, “M”, is walking through the park as it starts to rain. He can’t open his umbrella, so he asks a pretty girl for assistance; “Zombie fingers…” he explains. Bollocks, says I. Those are clearly stroke fingers. In any event, Pretty Girl opens his brolly, and he beams in thanks. <Cue heaving, smiling sobs.>
So, if there’s a tiny corner of your cold, stony heart that’s not ashamed to be unabashedly romantic and unapologetically optimistic, and you have chance to catch Warm Bodies, gobble it up like a morsel of warm human braaaiiiinnnssss. It crams all of the above into just over 90 minutes, and still has time to look into the nature and humanity of memory, remorse and redemption.