Jennifer’s Body is the eagerly awaited follow up to 2007’s indie film juggernaut Juno. Screenwriter Diablo Cody exploded onto the pop culture landscape, became an overnight sensation, and won an Academy Award for penning the story. Almost immediately after her catapult to fame, a backlash began against the writer. The anti-establishment proclaimed her over-rated. So the question riding on this film is this: Is she a one-hit-wonder or is she a legitimately talented screenwriter?
I don’t believe she ever had a chance of lightning striking twice and you can only star in a Cinderella story one time. However, Cody wisely chose to distance herself from her freshman debut and completely changed genres for her second movie. The result is this comedy/horror hybrid about a voracious vamp who develops an unhealthy appetite for the flesh of male classmates. Since the movie revolves around teenagers, Cody is able to drop plenty of her trademark dialogue, (or Cody-isms as we bloggers like to call them). Hot boys are “salty morsels” , boobs are “smart bombs” and Jennifer (Megan Fox) sneers “you’re so Jell-o” to someone she thinks is jealous. If you were annoyed by the snarky dialogue in Juno, you won’t be doing yourself any favors by seeing this movie. However, I enjoyed the dialogue and found that it added a deliciously campy feel to the movie.
Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia, Big Love) continues to dazzle with her range of characters. She is excellent as Needy, Jennifer’s nerdy best friend. She is completely convincing as an insecure teenager who discovers her friend’s terrible secret, and takes matters into her own hands. Her opening sequence in a mental institution is chilling.
Okay, this next part is going to hurt but here goes: Megan Fox is not terrible. In fact, she plays her role perfectly. A vacuous, self-absorbed, sexually overt, attention seeking vixen is not such a stretch for her though, so don’t consider this a ringing endorsement of her acting skills. With her 13 inch waist, cascading raven locks and ridiculously perfect breasts, she is the embodiment of every man’s dream girl. Bitch.
The story opens with Needy in a mental institution. Flashbacks serve as a narrative for the story, as we discover how and why Needy ended up there. Needy has an all-too typical relationship with Jennifer. They have known each other since they were toddlers playing in a sandbox. Despite being gorgeous, Jennifer is obviously insecure and keeps her nerdy friend around to boost her own fragile ego. Jennifer has a crush on a singer from a band called “Low Shoulder” (played with surprising gusto by Adam Brody) and convinces her mousy compadre to accompany her to a “club” ( translation=shit hole) in their town to watch the band perform.
During the performance, an accident causes a fire, and chaos ensues. Several people die trying to exit the club, and a near catatonic Jennifer is whisked away in a van by the band members while a horrified Needy watches helplessly. The next time we see Jennifer, she shows up at Needy’s house, bloodstained and famished. She makes short work of a rotisserie chicken in the fridge. Needless to say, Jennifer is…different than she was, to say the least.
Evidently Jennifer was used for a virgin sacrifice (by the band members who had hoped to garner fame from their offering to Satan). Problem is, she wasn’t exactly a virgin, which resulted in a demonic transference into her body. She must feed on flesh to keep her captivating good looks. If she goes too long between meals, she starts looking a little average, if you will. When Needy figures out Jennifer’s secret, the former friends face off in a fight to the death.
The obvious choice of song for the end credits is Hole’s “Jennifer’s Body.” Instead of using that song, the filmmakers wink and nod to Courtney Love and company and use “Violet” instead. It’s these unexpected surprises that keep the movie fresh.
This is a good movie, but not great. It’s not particularly scary, but I never really expected it to be so. It attempts to do what the far superior Drag Me To Hell did earlier this summer, but falls short. However, I certainly don’t think it warrants a write-off due to Cody’s involvement though. Jennifer’s Body is an enjoyable exercise in camp-horror and I believe it has the makings of a cult classic. Thinking about people shouting “you’re so Jell-O” at a movie screen at midnight makes me darn happy.