Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jennifer's Body Review

Jennifer's Body:
Directed by Karyn Kusama
Released in 2009

There really is not much to say about Jennifer's Body. Starring Megan Fox and written by Diablo Cody (Juno), the expectations are already set. Could this be the next high-school slasher film? Is the Academy Award-winning Cody going to strike gold again? Is Megan Fox still hot? The answer, with the exception of the last, is a resounding no.

As for the basics, Jennifer's Body is about the story of Jennifer (Megan Fox), the high school "it girl" who is drooled over by the male students and knows it. She teases them with their desires but *usually* doesn't give in. Her best friend, Needy (Amanda Seyfried) is a nerd but still is Jen's best friend, despite their physical and emotional differences. The problem comes when they both go to a bar one night and meet a Indie rock band called "Low Shoulder," with Nikolai (Adam Brody from the OC). A fiery event ensues and Jennifer is mysteriously whisked off with the band. She returns later to Needy's house in an emaciated form but, the day later, she is perfectly fine. It turns out Jennifer has turned into some demon/zombie that must feast on humans to keep her lustrous look intact. In this case, she chooses boys.

Jennifer lures countless different high school boys into her (literal) grasp by acting slutty but then, of course, disposing of them in gruesome ways. Unfortunately, these encounters are never scary or even sexy enough to get much of an impact, relying on horror movie cliches for "shock" value. For example, a boy walks into an abandoned house with absolutely no one on the street. Must be fine, right? He proceeds to climb through a window in the back of house that is under construction and gets freaked out by a crow that is inside the house. What happens next doesn't even need to explained; you know already. The violence is not even that graphic, as death scenes only involve shadows with blood splattering on walls or after views of murders that have humorously disfigured bodies with unreal excesses of blood. It's typical teenage slasher fare and not much more.

The script, with Diablo Cody of Juno fame at the helm, is nagging and vomit-inducing in itself. The worst part of Juno, the so-called "witty" dialogue, returns in full force, making expressions like "what the blog?" seem like child's play. When Jennifer is all bloody she says, "Got a tampon?" or, instead of using the word "jealous," Jennifer calls a boy "jello" and then repeats it five more times. Jen's final line is so ridiculously stupid I am not going to even repeat it here. I wonder how Diablo Cody won an Oscar in the first place and this movie should hopefully put her away for good.

Now, the acting. There really isn't much to say here, as well. Megan Fox is still sexy but incapable of much talent. It is definitely a step up from Transformers and, who knows, she may have a movie down the road where her sex appeal isn't the only thing that gets her by. But, in this film, Fox provides many laughs, usually unintentional, and is a very unconvincing demon child. Amanda Seyfried as Needy is merely okay, looking drastically different from Mamma Mia! from 2008. She still is an attractive actress even next to Fox here but her acting also relies on typical horror movie conventions. Her narration also can be grating, though this is more related to Miss Cody than her. Needy also has a boyfriend called Chip who is played by Johnny Simmons. He has a Zac Efron-style haircut so he can talk with a drawling, chill voice right? Well, the fact that he is never seen with anyone besides Needy (the names are starting to make sense...), pretty as she may be, begs to differ. A more nervous, uptight Chip would have been a better fit and probably provide a sense of comedic value but, as it stands, his character is actually decent. He provides a few funny one-liners and he is really the only other main character of the film, and the only male one at that, so he stands in rough territory. Adam Brody makes an impossibly stupid appearance as "Low Shoulder's" singer, not blinking an eye when a fire is blazing next to him or trying to reason that the devil is an indie rock band's best chance at success. Whenever he appears on screen, a guaranteed facepalm is bound to follow. The veteran actor here is actually the best. J.K. Simmons, the excellent character actor from Juno, Spiderman and Burn After Reading, is here as a one-handed teacher who provides most of the laughs or even emotion. Of course, his time on the screen can amount to maybe four-five minutes tops.

Truly, there is not much more to say about Jennifer's Body. The acting, script and story are all vapid or uninspired, but that is not even its biggest problem. The ultimate obstacle this film runs into is its severe identity crisis. It doesn't really know what it is or wants to be. There are not many laughs, there is not much horror, and there is not much sex. I actually had hopes that this film could have one or more of those three and executed them in an admirable way but, wow, was I wrong. Girls will probably not know the point and boys will be disappointed by the lack of the title star's "body." So, really, what is left?

Final Verdict:
2 Stars Out of 5


Geoff said...

Well at least you admit that she is still hot

Zachary Zahos said...

Yes, I think that is indisputable.