Valentine's Day comes a little early at the movies, with a charming romantic comedy with zombies.
"Warm Bodies" centers on R (Nicholas Hoult), one of the many undead people roaming around an unnamed American city, occasionally hunting down the few remaining humans. But he feels really conflicted about it, and even more so when he sees the beautiful Julie (Teresa Palmer), he starts to have stirrings of human feelings a condition that soon spreads to R's fellow undead. Director-writer Jonathan Levine ("50/50") deftly mixes the best of both genres, the zombie movie and the romantic comedy, and takes full advantage of Hoult's deadpan performance and Palmer's feisty charm.
"Stand Up Guys" is a waste of everyone's time, notably stars Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin. They play old friends in the crime game, who reunite on the day Pacino's Val gets out of prison after 28 years for killing a mobster's son. What Val doesn't know is that Doc (Walken's character) has been ordered by the mobster (Mark Margolis) to whack Val by the next morning. Pacino and Walken (and, briefly, Arkin) bounce around this undernourished story, riffing against each other because there's nothing in the script to play against.
The other studio release this week is "Bullet to the Head," an ultra-violent action pic starring Sylvester Stallone. It was not screened for Utah critics.
The major art-house entry this week is "Rust and Bone," a brutal romantic drama focusing on a tough boxer (Matthias Schoenaerts) who meets his match in an orca trainer (Marion Cotillard) and what happens to their relationship when she loses her legs in a mishap with a killer whale. Director Jacques Audiard ("A Prophet") and his cast don't sentimentalize for a moment, and the result is a hard-edged, emotional experience.
The best show of the week is playing at the Tower Theatre: Compilations of the Oscar short-film nominees. The live-action program has some gems, but the animated category is loaded with brilliance including Disney's "Paperman," the found-object head-twister "Fresh Guacamole," and "Maggie Simpson in 'The Longest Daycare.'"