Jayme Woods

Writer. Geek. Adventurer.


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Warm Bodies and Writing: The Importance of Secondary Characters

When I mentioned zombies in my last post, it was just to give my sister a hint about her birthday gift:

kayce's gift 3

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized writers can learn a lot from Warm Bodies. An entire post could be devoted to the differences between the book and movie, but for this post I’m going to focus strictly on the movie. Specifically, I’m going to focus on the importance of its supporting characters: Nora, M, and Perry.

At first blush, it’s easy to think the magic of Warm Bodies is all about R and Julie. They are, after all, the main characters. However, I’d argue it’s the characters around them who really sell the story and, in many ways, endear R and Julie to us.

***WARNING: SPOILERS***

Take Nora. Sure, she fulfills the stock role of sarcastic best friend, complete with zippy one-liners and a makeover scene for poor unsuspecting R.

makeover edited

But Nora’s most important scene, to my mind, is one of her very first, when R and his zombie buddies ambush Julie and company. Why does it matter? Because, later in the movie, when Julie tries to fight her way out of a zombie infested airport with nothing but a weed eater, we might ask ourselves: why now? If she’s such a fighter, why not fight earlier, when she was much less outnumbered? One quick pan to terrified Nora, cowering under a desk, and we understand.

Nora edited

Julie goes with R to save her friend. This sacrifice immediately makes her more sympathetic without compromising the tough-girl side that makes her so awesome throughout the rest of the film.

Much like Nora, R’s best friend, M, instantly ups the humor ante. He also lays the groundwork for the ultimate redemption of the zombies. One scene in particular always kills me. In it, M talks about regaining his memories. His mom. Summertime. Then, like it’s some profound revelation, he adds:

cream... of wheat edited

The first time I saw it, I died laughing. Let’s be real, I still do. But, as trivial as it sounds, this was a profound revelation for M. He’s been so lost for so long that he’s completely forgotten what it is to be human, right down to the tiniest (and most hilarious) details. It’s this reignited glimmer of humanity – something we’ve already seen blossoming in R – that allows us to forgive the zombies for the otherwise unforgivable things they’ve done. Like eating people. Which brings us to…

perry edited 2

I’m probably going to catch some flak for this (yes, I’m talking about you, sis), but in my opinion Perry is the linchpin of Warm Bodies. Our opinions of R, Julie, and their entire romance rest squarely on his shoulders. Why? If he’s too unlikeable, we’d never believe Julie would put up with him. She’s tough. She’s hot. It’s the end of the world. She’s got to be getting other offers. We have to believe she and Perry have something special enough to fight for. Even though Perry is broken and pushing her away, we see him in flashbacks being a boyfriend worth having, possibly the first guy to ever tell Julie he loved her.

BUT – and here’s why I say Perry could’ve ruined the whole movie – he can’t be too likable. As the audience, we have to believe sweeter than pie Perry is gone, replaced by an apocalypse-wearied soldier. We have to be able to forgive R for, well, eating him – and we have to believe Julie would too. Otherwise, the whole movie falls apart. Ten minutes later, when Julie’s falling for R, we wouldn’t feel warm and fuzzy. We wouldn’t want to root for them. We’d be outraged.

retail therapy edited

That, my friends, is the magic of supporting characters. Sometimes they cower under desks or muse about breakfast foods. Sometimes they get eaten. But through it all they hold the story together and, in the case of Warm Bodies, make it an incredibly fun ride.

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Now You See Me, Now You – OOH, CAKE!!

I like theme parties. A lot. So when my sister’s birthday rolls around I don’t play around. Our place has been transformed into everything from Hogwarts (complete with floating candles and boggart cabinet) to an Avatar Day celebration:

avatar

Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, and this year I had no clue what to do… until we went to see Now You See Me. For those of you who don’t know, Now You See Me is pretty much the best heist movie since 2003’s The Italian Job – only with magic! I’m a sucker for classic stage illusion, so this was pretty much the perfect movie.

Thankfully, my sister agreed, so I *finally* had a theme to run with. This is what happened:

****WARNING: SPOILERS****

table

That giant card in the background was inspired by my sister’s favorite part of the movie: Atlas’s opening trick. Shout out to the ladies at work, who gave me the tablecloth I used to make it! 🙂

Here’s a close-up of the falling money inspired by the Four Horsemen’s final trick (note: it’s been photo bombed by Beauty and the Beast):

falling money

You know that Canon commercial where all the photographers do crazy stuff to get the perfect shot? That’s pretty much how my sister looked when she snapped the picture above. Here’s another one from top-down (taken on her tippy toes from a chair) because she’s thorough like that:

falling money 2

Thankfully, what I lack in photography skills I make up for with baking prowess:

cake

Okay, not really. That’s from Costco. But it was seriously delicious. If I ever have to plan a last meal, I’m going to order a barrel of the chocolate mousse they put in the center. *drool*

Where was I? Right. The party.

Here’s the rose and note that greeted the Four Horsemen in that creepy abandoned apartment:

flower

Fun fact: not only can Jack Wilder turn playing cards into deadly weapons, apparently he also keeps them arranged in Fibonacci sequence:

cards

Again, not really. But it’d be really hot if he did.

Moving on. Here’s some Merritt McKinney swag:

merritt

Last but not least, here are some Minions. Everyone knows it’s not a party without Minions:

minions

Again, we’ve been photo bombed by a Disney character. That’s life in the fast lane.

So there it is. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SIS!! Love ya like a zombie loves brains…

And, yes, that might’ve been foreshadowing for my next post. 😉

Wishing you all a lovely weekend and a great big slice of Costco cake!