Jennifer's Body Reviews
Who'd like it? Only die-hard fans of Fox or Seyfried. Otherwise, give it a skip.
Such is the case for Fox. She possesses Monroe's bewitching beauty but also her uncannily sad eyes. Fox's physical attributes render her undoubtedly perfect for the role of the devilishly hot and eerily mercurial man-eater, Jennifer, but she actually brings some layers into the character - not only the sweetly flustered flirtation or the quietly anguished "My name is Jennifer" - but a layer that I'm not sure the filmmakers intended (more on why not later).
Even in the scenes where Jennifer is madcap elated, Fox's sad eyes seem to imply a deeper torment tugging at the surface demon. This leads me to believe that Jennifer's soul is still present and fighting for control of her body, but the film does not go in that direction.
There's much to like about the movie: the pumping soundtrack, the satirical commentary on indie bands and tragedy boners, the pervasive hotness. In the end though, it's just a cheap, crazy-chick-gets-revenge flick (the trope of which has experienced a feminist/pseudo-feminist resurgence with many of Gillian Flynn's novel adaptations). Diablo Cody tried to write a feminist horror movie in which all the tropes of helpless, preyed-upon women get turned on their heads. A woman preys on the men, and a woman ultimately kills the demon, but the eponymous woman is merely fantasy porn for sadistic man-haters. I would have liked the movie better if Jennifer only kills the men who wronged her or leched after her. Chip would be spared, and the douches of Low Shoulder will get their due without Needy having to resort to one-dimensional cracked-outedness. The script doesn't allow the demon any depth; despite Fox's nuanced gaze, her original soul is a null entity.
I was hoping that the movie would actually follow through with its truthful analysis of tragedy, but alas, it's just not-as-clever, awkwardly-executed "Juno"-esque dialogue with blood and gore. And a hot lesbian make-out. But you know, that part didn't really further the plot.
How does she know?? Maybe it's the way Jennifer likes to vomit up a black substance chunkier than the gunk Regan from "The Exorcist" spewed out forty-some years ago, the way she can slice up her arm with a butcher knife, burn her tongue with a cigarette lighter, get stabbed by a pack of lunatic rockers, and still manage to heal herself in an instantaneous snap of a finger akin to X-Men's own Wolverine. Or maybe it's the way she devours the flesh and blood of unsuspecting romantic liaisons like a cannibalistic Black Widow. Or maybe it's her sudden lack of conscience, which causes her to make jokes in the middle of class about all those coincidental local murders. It could be nothing at all - perhaps a bad case of PMSing? But like Jennifer reminds her alleged best friend halfway through the film, PMSing is something the male-dominated media made up in order to make an excuse as to why females can sometimes get a little crazy. So there's only one conclusion to turn to: Jennifer is possessed. Hell is a teenage girl after all.
Back in '09, "Jennifer's Body" was hyped as both the first leading role of blockbusting it-girl Megan Fox and also as the follow-up for screenwriter Diablo Cody, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay two years previously for "Juno". A box-office bomb and a critical mix-up, it has long since been forgotten, a teen horror comedy undeservedly considered to be a chance to grab the attention of the male audience "Twilight" couldn't muster. (Who can forget the heavily publicized lesbionic kiss between its two female leads?)
So it's a shame that "Jennifer's Body" is, in actuality, a misunderstood oddity with a degree of wit comparable to 1989's untouchable "Heathers", blacker than black but funny as hell. You've got to be a little twisted to find joy in the humor, but I don't think I'm so much twisted as I am appreciative of the very literal approach Cody takes with the "high school is hell" cliché, concocting a brilliant cocktail of teen angst and actual threat. Her famous pop culture infused zingers are all here, and so are her neuroses that manage to be flavorful and observant. She knows her characters well enough to throw tongue-in-cheek curveballs at them without the doubts of the audience murdering her oddball sensibilities. To take it seriously (think of it as a better than usual B-movie - one critic compared it to "Drag Me to Hell") would be a mistake. It's made to have fun with.
And now that the erotic smoke has cleared from Fox's public persona, we can now appreciate her as a sultry but perfectly cast leading character, delivering Cody's snarky lines with a vicious snap; and since Seyfried is now an established name rather than the up-and-comer she was back then, we can delight in her pluckiness, her charm as a unwitting protagonist.
So blink a few times and look again - "Jennifer's Body" isn't a failure but a horror comedy for the ages, a cult classic in the making. Cody didn't make a misstep and neither did Fox; they, instead, got caught in the crossfire of a public expecting something trashy, something provocative, something to cash-in on the vampire craze but got something smart. Six-years-ago, nobody got it - but decades from now, don't be surprised if people are still laughing at "Twilight" and are instead deciding to pay tribute to "Jennifer's Body". It's too distinct to pass along, and the mainstream rarely gets this risky.