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Jennifer's Body (2009)

  Tags: Adam Brody, Amanda Seyfried, blood, cheerleader, comedic, demonic, Diablo Cody, J.K. Simmons, Karyn Kusama, Lance Henriksen, Megan Fox, satan

Your rating: None Average: 6.5 (19 votes)
Reviewer Rating: 
7

jennifersbody2.jpg
Rating #: 
7/10
Director: 
Karyn Kusama
Runtime: 
102 minutes
Cast: 
Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, J.K. Simmons, Adam Brody, Lance Henriksen


So yeah…how about that Megan Fox?  Hella sexy, huh?  No, she’s not fully naked in her new flick.  But what if I told you that she engages in a full out girl on girl, spit swapping make out session that gives Cruel Intentions a run for its money?  Got your interest peaked now?  Good, you are exactly the target audience that Fox (the studio, not the actress) marketed Jennifer’s Body to.  Now, what if I told you that there’s actually an astonishingly competent film with a strong sense of unconventionality in between Ms. Fox‘s sexy strutting.  Seriously, I totally swear!

Aside from Megan’s Body, one of the strong selling points of the movie is that it’s written by Juno’s Academy Award winning Diablo Cody.  There’s no question that her sophomore effort will be seen as a love it or hate it film.  If you found her dialogue in that film annoying and pretentious then Jennifer’s Body is not for you.  But if you found it to be witty and fun, or just don't give a shit about how characters speak, then strap yourself in for Cody’s innovative variation of the dead teenager movie.  Fox plays Jennifer Check.  That hot girl in the high school who’s been friends with the meek and less glamorous Needy (really Diablo, can we get more on the nose with a name?) Lesnicky.  They live in a dog shit town called Devil’s Kettle which has exactly one bar.  Said bar sets the scene for Jennifer and Needy to attend a concert where Jennifer’s new band obsession is playing. 

After the bar burns to the ground due to a freak fire during the performance, Jennifer follows the band back to their rape van while Needy chooses to go home.  Later that night Jennifer shows up at Needy’s house, dripping blood and puking black bile.  The next day Jennifer is back to normal…with the exception of her uncontrollable hunger for teenage boys that is.  Turns out the band needed to sacrifice a virgin to make a fame pact with the devil.  The only problem is, Jennifer is far from a virgin (not even an anal virgin), so she in return becomes possessed by a demon.

I’ve read a lot of comparisons between these two characters and the two friends from Juno, saying that they’re just Cody reusing characters.  Nothing could be further from the truth as the popular friend in Juno was kind of a tard, while Jennifer is always a step ahead of everyone in their bumpkin town.  Juno was a whip smart, independent teen who doesn’t give a fuck of what people think of her.  Needy is an insecure follower who lives by whatever Jennifer says.  They’re both layered and effective characters played to perfection by Fox and Amanda Seyfried. 

While the promotional materials are all about Ms. Megan, and she really was born to play this part, the film truly belongs to Seyfried.  She exhibit’s the same scene stealing charm that made her one to look out for in Mean Girls.  The supporting cast, featuring Adam Brody (as the band’s lead singer), J.K. Simmons (as a one handed science teacher), and Kyle Gallner (as the eccentric goth), all fit their roles seamlessly.  The true break out here, however, is Johnny Simmons as Needy’s boyfriend Chip.  What could have been a character that could easily fade into the background is comes off as one of the most memorable.  He’s quirky, sweet, funny, and just all around likeable.

There’s no doubt that director Karyn Kusama is capable of creating a technically sound film.  Where she misses, however, is in properly balancing the comedy with the horror.  It felt inconsistent and almost bipolar.  I read the script sometime last year and didn’t get that feeling.  It’s equal parts Buffy, Heathers, and Evil Dead and I would love to see what a director in the vein of Sam Raimi could have done with the material.  Kusama just didn't have fun with it, and it feels like she was afraid of the horror element.  While it didn't feel as uneven, Cody's script isn’t perfect.  Because she had just won an Oscar, the movie is almost word for word exactly like the draft that I read.  Kusama and the cast weren’t allowed to change anything, which hurt the film in the long run.  The script definitely could have gone through at least one minor rewrite as I found the action scenes a little too few and far between and the sacrifice scene was total weak sauce.  And yes, the hipster dialogue could have used a little bit of toning down.

While there’s a couple bloody moments, it’s all around pretty tame and I wonder how an amped up gore quotient (along the lines of the movies Jennifer’s Body pays tribute to) could have affected the final product.  Honestly, the main reason Jennifer’s Body garners a 7 rating from me is not only because of its mean spirited sense of humor and perfect casting, but also because it’s different.  After the paint by numbers Sorority Row, it’s quite refreshing to see a movie take familiar elements and use them to create an unfamiliar narrative.  It’s almost depressing how Fox miss-marketed the film to pubescent boys not old enough to even get into the film to solely try to cash in on Megan’s sex appeal, because the crowd the movie should be targeted to will miss out.

With a dark, snarky humor and evidence of originality, Jennifer’s Body is an entertaining gem, albeit somewhat unbalanced, that will most likely divide audiences. If nothing else, Megan Fox proves she can hold her own when not being upstaged by CG robots and Amanda Seyfried continues to be a force on the screen.

Posted on September 25, 2009 - 12:52pm | Johnny D

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