As sequester looms with the promise of weakening the United States and making the world a much less safe place, I turned to another kind of apocalypse with hopes it would distract me from the burning hole that keeps growing in my stomach every time I think about the dangerous consequences of corrosive partisan politics.
Plus my university-aged son was home for the weekend and willing to go to the movies with me as I long as I was paying for the popcorn.
Other than knowing it was a zombie flick, I had read nothing about “Warm Bodies.” Hoping it would be more “Shaun of the Dead” than “Night of the Living Dead,” I was pleasantly surprised to find it was mostly an original spin on “Romeo and Juliet.”
Noting the feeling of disconnection that is metastasizing in American society—the backlash of technology that has the power to isolate individuals rather than engage them in real contact—breathing corpses simply bumble through their days, slowly and steadily losing all touch with their own humanity.
However, when the zombie who only remembers his first name used to start with the letter “R” gives into his hunger and kills the beautiful Julie’s boyfriend (by eating his brain, no less), the movie grows ripe with allusion to the work of the Bard.
Seeing Julie through the memories of Perry—a Hollywood embodiment of the estimable Paris who once wooed a young Capulet—the cordial R’s heart begins to beat in a way it never has before.
Despite the fact that humans and zombies are not meant to comingle, a courtship begins, and the story becomes both comic and endearing.
As we sat in the audience, my son and I poked each other with our cherry red Twizzlers—also paid for by Mom, of course—each time a new parallel to the original script was presented.
“Look! Look! Marcus is like an undead Mercutio! Get it? Get it?”
Perhaps we were feeling cleverer than a recreated balcony scene replete with the interruptions of Julie’s friend who aspires to be a nurse (wink, wink) would warrant, but we had a really fantastic time making the connections from where we were at first sitting in the dark on the film’s purpose.
I, of course, couldn’t help but think about the students to whom I’ve taught Shakespeare. I wondered if they would see as clearly as we did the extra layer of the zombie script that lent a bit of wit to “Warm Bodies.”
Regardless, I left the movie full of popcorn, candy and Coke, chattering away with my kid about what we thought of the premise.
And how nice was that?
The tickets set me back twenty bucks. Then there were all the snacks that further emptied my wallet. Yet—as I’m sure the producers would agree—there really is something priceless about anything that prompts engaging human discourse after the movie is over.
And, you know, a real romantic at heart, it seems Shakespeare would have been pleased with the idea that star-crossed lovers could maybe find happier endings in the dawning of a new age.
Perhaps from under the ground in Stratford-upon-Avon—if he could somehow envision this Hollywood rendition of his work—his mouldy corpse would even give this particular take on his classic play two thumbs up.
At least that’s how I’m imagining it.
Whoever would have thought zombies would turn out so smart?