Zom Rom Coms (It’s a Thing)

 

“Quick question: would you be interested in coming to see a movie with us tonight? I know you said you have homework, but in case you feel like being social…”

The “us” in question was a posse I had invited for Sabbath lunch that day and wound up hanging out with all afternoon. The posse consisted of my recent ex’s best friend, his girlfriend, a guy I’d met briefly on Thanksgiving, and another guy I’d only just met that day. (This is how we Jews do things — invite now, ask questions later.)

They were all very good company, and I almost never say no to a movie. I’m one of those people who likes movies so much that I will a) frequently go to see them alone, and b) go see ones I like over and over and over, with different people, in different theaters, and on DVD, just because I love soaking up the different experiences.

“Whatever, I put off doing my homework all the time. What movie are we seeing?”

Hansel and Gretel.

“That is an awful movie. This is gonna be awesome!”

It wasn’t that simple, though — once we got to the theater, we discovered that Hansel and Gretel was no longer playing, possibly because it died of awfulness. Unconfirmed. So we had a hasty re-vote and decided on the next showing of the zombie romantic comedy, Warm Bodies. However, it wasn’t showing for another hour, so we all went down the block and got pizza and ran into my actual ex-boyfriend, which was totally not as awkward as it sounds.

After hashing out the bill (several times, to ensure that there were no mistakes), we trudged back through the biting cold to the box office window, where we bought our tickets, and made it into the theater only a few minutes into the movie. Perfect.

SO HOW WAS THE MOVIE, you ask?

It was very good. By turns suspenseful, funny, and sappy.

Narrated by a teenage zombie (played perfectly awkwardly by Nicholas Hoult), it pokes fun at zombie conventions — for instance, when the whole pack is shuffling off to attack a distant human settlement, the narrator notes, “Man, are we slow. This could take a while.” And then the camera cuts away to follow the humans around for ten minutes or so before the zombies come back into the picture, because seriously, zombies are slow.

But the movie takes on a dimension beyond satire when the narrator, R, eats the brains of a zombie-fighter named Perry. According to the rules in this zombie universe (created by author Isaac Marion, in his novel upon which the movie is based, because far be it from Hollywood to come up with anything original these days), eating the brains of a person gives a zombie brief snatches of that person’s memories. This is conveyed in surprisingly touching, golden-lit montage sequences that contrast the washed-out blue and grey tinted world that constitutes the rest of the movie.

As R explains, the brains are the best part because they make him feel human again.

But not only that — Perry had a girlfriend. By eating Perry’s brains, R inherits Perry’s love for his girlfriend. (Don’t worry, the movie and R fully acknowledge how messed up this is.)

Thus ensues the most awkward and creepily sweet romance I’ve seen in a movie in a long time, possibly ever. (And I saw Silver Linings Playbook. The awkward-creepy-sweet doesn’t even compare.) R himself says in voiceover at one point: “Don’t be creepy, don’t be creepy…” and then proceeds to be extremely creepy because, hello, ZOMBIE.

Oh, and the girl is named Julie, and in case you didn’t get the Romeo and Juliet reference, there is a balcony scene, have no fear.

It’s a movie with a little something for everyone. There’s the satire, the violence, and the warm gooey feeling of eating brains and — I mean, remembering what it’s like to be human and why being a zombie would suck. Which is a nice feeling to have when you get out of a movie theater with a whole gang of new friends.

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