I grew up in the 80’s. I’m not talking spent a piece of my young life there. I mean, born in January 1980, the whole decade was me growing up. It was a happier time filled with Pound Puppies, Transformers, Swatch Watches, and Trapper Keepers with unicorns on them (in neon, “hot” colors too because they were Lisa Frank). Skateboarding’s biggest names and personalities were flying out of half pipes. People wore bright colored clothes without feeling ridiculous while Michael Jackson “thrilled” us, and we had the best cartoons. It is a bit fascinating to me that some of the 80’s styles are making a come back though I do truly hope that poof bangs and poodle perms remain in the past. They are not the right hairstyle for anyone, and no one over age five looks good in a jumper. (Don’t do it, kids, seriously! We already tried it once.)
Of course, movies and entertainment were a huge part of the 80’s. It was certainly not the golden age of film. Rather, it was a bit silly, but it would be hard to argue that any other decade in film was more fun. Our stories had happy endings, and the good guys won. We grew up with The Neverending Story, Ghost Busters, The Karate Kid, and The Princess Bride. Our heroes were Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, and Christopher Reeves’ Superman. Fantasy was cool, and any time we saw a Delorian, we looked for Michael J. Fox. It was a simpler age of film, and yes while it may have been a bit ridiculous, it was so much fun. Don’t get me wrong. I am also a fan of the more recent decades of film. In the 90’s when society flipped from being happy to angry, great films were made there too. Fight Club and The Boondock Saints remain favorites of mine. But you have to admit, 80’s movies, while cheesy, are some of the coolest films of all.
Well, tight roll your pants and break out the popcorn…Ladies and Gentlemen, I have found a new film that echoes all the best of our beloved 80’s movies. Last Friday, Mike and I went to see Warm Bodies, a zombie film by Jonathan Levine. A few weeks ago, I discovered that the film is based on a book, and while I did not have a chance to read it before seeing the film, it is now on my list. Because I have not read the book, what I have to say comes strictly from a film standpoint, but I feel that’s okay.
Warm Bodies chronicles the adventures of R, a 20’s something zombie, who begins to feel, remember, and ultimately dream as love awakens a cure for his zombie-ism. From my first view of the trailer, I wanted to see this film because the premise is so different from a traditional zombie movie. I don’t claim to be the biggest fan of the genre, though I have seen my fair share of them. I suppose that the zombie traditionalist might not be so keen on the film, but the unique concept grabbed my attention from the beginning. In a time when Hollywood remakes classic film after classic film, it is refreshing to see something truly unique. Despite a clear Romeo and Juliet connection (which became apparent to me in the “balcony scene”), Warm Bodies does not take itself too seriously, and in this aspect, it truly begins to feel like a genuine 80’s movie. Heart balances humor, and good old-fashioned cheesey-ness oozes but doesn’t overflow. As the characters change internally, the changes in their physical appearance and mannerisms are subtle but noticeable and are a profoundly effective strategy for communicating those changes to the audience.
As a love story, Warm Bodies is again reminiscent of the films of my youth. Love transcends all bounds, the story is oddly romantic, and ultimately, love wins. Hopefully optimistic, the film does not necessarily present a realistic love story, but I don’t really care. The characters are real enough I can identify with them. R’s internal monologue is hilarious as he talks himself through acting on his attraction to Julie – “Try not to be creepy. Try not to be creepy.” While it is something any young man might tell himself, the line takes on a whole new meaning when delivered by a zombie.
This film has John Malkovich…enough said.
At the end of this movie, I felt good, and I was entertained. These were the hallmarks of the 80’s movies and what was best about that era of film. If you haven’t had the chance yet, go see Warm Bodies. No, it will not win an Academy Award, but it is a film that Hollywood can be proud of – unique, interesting, entertaining. And don’t forget the popcorn. All the brain consumption is bound to make you hungry.