Monday, September 21, 2009

Movie Review: Jennifer's Body

Jennifer’s Body ** ½
Directed By: Karyn Kusama.
Written By: Diablo Cody
Starring: Megan Fox (Jennifer Check), Amanda Seyfried (Needy Lesnicky), J.K. Simmons (Mr. Wroblewski), Adam Brody (Nikolai Wolf), Johnny Simmons (Chip), Amy Sedaris (Toni Lesnicky), Chris Pratt (Officer Roman Duda), Kyle Gallner (Colin Gray)

What is odd about Jennifer’s Body, is that although it is written by a woman and directed by another woman, is that this is the ultimate teenage boy’s fantasy movie. If Twilight indulges the unrealistic fantasies of never ending, romantic love of teenage girls, than Jennifer’s Body indulges the fantasy that there are hot, bisexual girls in their high schools with an insatiable sexual appetite. That the hot bi-sexual is played by Megan Fox just makes the fantasy even greater - and even if she also has an insatiable appetite for human flesh, she’s hot enough that I do not think most teen boys are going to mind.

Despite the title of the movie though, the main character of the movie is actually Needy (Amanda Seyfried). She is Jennifer’s best friend, and allows herself to be dominated by Jennifer and her every whim. Needy has a sweet, lovable boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons), and although they are in love, she can never say no to Jennifer. So when Jennifer says she wants to go to a club (which is really more of a dive of a bar) to see a shitty emo band called Raised Shoulder, Needy cannot help but go along. It turns out that Raised Shoulder is not as innocent as they seem, and their lead singer Nikolai (Adam Brody) is not as charming as he seems. He sets his sights on Jennifer because he knows small towns like this, and he pegs Jennifer as the type of town hottie that is really just a cock tease, and in actuality is a virgin. This makes her perfect to be a sacrifice to the Dark Lord, in which if you are not a virgin, you are not much of a sacrifice. Boy, does he pick the wrong girl, as in the words of Jennifer “After Duda, I’m not even a back door virgin anymore”. When the bar burns to the ground, killing dozens of people, Needy and Jennifer escape, only to see Jennifer go off with the band in their creepy van. When Jennifer shows up later at Needy’s house, covered in blood, and with a taste for raw meat, Needy knows that something is wrong. But the day next day, Jennifer appears to be even hotter than normal, so she tries to put it out of her mind. But then strange things start happening. Jennifer keeps appearing to look more and more rundown and less hot (at least as less hot as is possible for Megan Fox), but then the day after a local boy is found disemboweled, Jennifer is back to her regular hotty self. Needy knows what is happening, and tries her best to put a stop to it, but that would mean standing up to Jennifer, which she has never done before. Their one scene where she tries (besides the finale, of course), starts out as a confrontation, and ends up with a make-out session, where the sexual tension between the two girls is finally made real. And although this will make be sound completely unprofessional, the scene is hot. It will probably make for the most watched scene in the movie for every teen boy who buys the DVD.

Jennifer’s Body was written by Diablo Cody, who won an Oscar a couple of years ago for the teen pregnancy comedy Juno. In Jennifer’s Body, she tries to interject the same sort of witty banter that made Juno so popular, but with less stellar results. Yes, some of the one liners in the movie are memorable (in the week since I’ve seen the movie, I have heard “He’s giving me a wetty” repeatably from some of the people I saw the movie with). But in Jennifer’s Body the mixture of horror and comedy seems uneasy, and not fully integrated. It is an uneasy hybrid of 1980s teen comedy and 1980s horror film that is not as funny or insightful as the best of the former and not nearly as a scary as the latter.

But while Jennifer’s Body may never quite come together to be a complete movie, it certainly remains an entertaining one - at least for men. Seyfried delivers a very good performance as Needy, the girl who cannot stand up for herself. And Fox proves that yes, she can actually act. It may not be a great performance, but she plays the role exactly the way it should be played. The supporting cast - including JK Simmons as a clueless teacher - are also great, especially Brody, who is hilarious as the whiny emo front man. And while the film certainly indulges in teen boy’s sexual fantasies, the scenes between Needy and Chip are surprisingly touching and honest about teen sex. In the end though, Jennifer’s Body remains a not quite successful film, but it is an entertaining one for the most part. If they had found a better way to integrate the different elements, this could have been a new cult classic. It’s not, but it’s fun.

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