Afflicted with a highly active brain, a zombie named "R" chooses to meet, rather than eat - a cute girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer). His infatuation soon leads to feelings of love that prompt R's dead heart to begin beating.
A romance loosely inspired by Shakespeare's classic, the irrational prejudice of parents presents a major obstacle to flowering young love. That's because Julie's daddy is a military commander played by a heaving John Malkovich, and he's a stickler when it comes to letting his daughter take up with a zombie.
A hot trend in romance, human-vampire love is practically an everyday - er, every night - event. The appeal of eternal, seemingly insatiable vampires might be understandable, but extending that appeal to include zombies is nothing short of challenging.
"Warm Bodies" rises to the task by making its zombie protagonist, portrayed by Nicholas Hoult, into an appealing corpse. His look of decay is minimized by a zombie playbook relying on pale blue skin and heavy eyeliner that recalls any one of the Bronte sisters' heroes.
R and the film's other zombies (alas, none of whom receive the same attention to their makeup) lumber along with vacant eyes and slack jaws - like any teen. Yet somehow, when circumstances demand, these zombies kick into overdrive and give their human prey a run for their money.
R's home base is an airport. He takes breaks from milling around the terminal, by climbing aboard his own personal abandoned passenger jet that houses R's extensive record collection. It is here that he brings Julie after rescuing her from being eaten by other zombies. Though he can barely speak, can't remember his name or the apocalypse responsible for making him this way, when trying to win Julie over we "hear" R's internal dialogue warn him, "Don't be creepy ... Don't be creepy!"
The trailer to "Warm Bodies" yields about 30 seconds of comic genius. Unfortunately, the complete film only adds another 30 seconds or so to the tally. That leaves 96 minutes with only R's slow transformation to sustain us.
Adapted from a novel by Isaac Marion as a romance, what's most unusual about "Warm Bodies" is that it's written from a male perspective - even if he is dead.
Rated PG-13 as a date movie for teens, the movie raked in $20 million dollars in ticket sales during its opening weekend, but like most blind dates, the film is unlikely to get a second.