Monday, January 21, 2019

Movie Minute: Jennifer's Body

by M.J. Hamada (writer), Santa Monica, September 24, 2009


Not boring but far from great, Jennifer's Body isn't as "salty" as it wants to be.

What would happen if Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody, who broke onto the scene with Juno, were to write a horror-comedy? Jennifer's Body would happen.

Moviegoers (at least those outside of the filmmaking world) don't often concern themselves with who wrote what, so the fact that Diablo Cody's name comes up, alongside Megan Fox's, in association with Jennifer's Body shows what an impact she made with Juno.

How has Cody garnered such attention? Of course, her Oscar win has helped, yet even before that, her stripper-turned-screenwriter story made the news. And then there's her dialogue: slangy, chat-snappy teen-speak. Cody-speak.

Remember Juno's "Honest to blog?", "Phuket, Thailand!" and "food baby"? In Jennifer's Body, characters utter phrases such as "You're totally lesbi-gay," "You're just Jell-O" (meaning: jealous) and "Move-on dot org, Needy." More fodder for Urban Dictionary.

But watching the trailer, you'd think Body would be a horror-thriller aimed at audiences that enjoy Jeepers Creepers, Urban Legend and I Know What You Did Last Summer. In other words, the trailer prepares us for a straight-faced "horror light," something scary yet with a CW (Television Network) vibe.

The trailer, it turns out, is scarier than the film itself.

Jennifer's Body is Juno mixed with Heathers mixed with the TV show Supernatural. This mash-up doesn't quite work. At times, the film is tongue-in-cheeky and seems to be laughing at the horror genre; at other times, it pretends to be dark and spooky, like the aforementioned "horror light" movies. The problems are that some episodes of Supernatural have been spookier and that Body's tone—snarky dialogue one moment, attempted scares the next—is uneven. (Not a toned Body? Sorry—the bad puns beg to be de-livered.)

The plot offers few surprises. Set in a small Minnesota town called Devil's Kettle, the story revolves around teen vamp Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) and her less-popular friend Anita "Needy" Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried). These two best friends (or "biffs," as the dialogue tells us) venture out to Melody Lane, a dive bar where rising emos Low Shoulder are playing. Jennifer has her eye on lead singer Nikolai Wolf (Adam Brody), whom she considers "extra salty." Nikolai looks Jennifer over and tells his bandmates that she's the one: the virgin they will sacrifice in honor of "the man downstairs."

Yes, the members of Low Shoulder are Satan worshippers, and they believe that such an offering will send their music career into the stratosphere. Little do these dim bulbs know (most of the characters are dim bulbs), Jennifer is not a virgin. Which means that their sacrifice does not take. Which means that when they murder Jennifer, she does not die; she transmogrifies. Jennifer the vamp becomes Jennifer the demonic vixen who feeds on boys.

The absurdity of that little detail—the reason Jennifer, rather than dying, becomes demonic—does not go unnoticed. Perhaps we're meant to overlook this detail. "It's a cheesy horror flick," one might argue. "Just roll with it." And perhaps we could just roll with it if the "sacrifice" scene were to appear early on. But the scene doesn't show up until the latter half of the movie. It's a big buildup with a bigger letdown.

Jennifer's Body does have its bright spots. There is nice cinematography, good music (for that CW crowd) and decent acting. The much-talked-about kiss lives up to the hype. The Cody-ified dialogue will make you laugh (when it's not making you cringe).

Grade: C.

Jennifer's Body is Queue-worthy. For a saltier movie about a teenage female beastie, check out Ginger Snaps.

About the Writer

M.J. Hamada is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on Movie Minute: Jennifer's Body

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By M.J. Hamada on December 05, 2009 at 07:59 pm

Thanks for your comment!

Wow, where did that "gay" tag come from? I wrote this article before the tags. "Gay" is a little misleading here.

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