Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Movie Review: Jennifer's Body

With all that could have gone right, where did Jennifer’s Body go so wrong? I mean, the movie had so much going for it: A script by Diablo Cody, a role that Megan Fox was born to play, and rising star Amanda Seyfried. When the red band trailer came out, the movie looked incredibly promising. It seemed to be a dark comedy of epic proportions, ripe with catty dialogue and biting social commentary. Then the theatrical trailer was released and I began to worry. You see, the new trailer played the movie off like a horror film. Unfortunately, my instincts proved to be accurate. Jennifer’s Body should not be a fright flick and its biggest downfall is the way it amateurishly adheres to some of the conventions of horror movies. Granted, the desired dialogue and commentary is there on a basic level, but the movie tries too hard to be too many things all at one and falls short on every front.

Let’s start with the good. Overall, the movie has some funny moments. Many of Megan Fox’s lines are priceless. Her character, the titular Jennifer, is crass and offensive without any regard to those around her. Many of the moments with her and Needy (Seyfried’s character) at school showcase Cody’s penchant for dialogue. Additionally, I do think the movie manages to strike some chords/universal truths with its messages…youths are desensitized to violence, some people will pay any price for fame, female empowerment, etc. Blah blah blah. I just can’t help rolling my eyes because these themes are presented without any subtlety and yet manage to have very little impact. I think the reason for that comes from the biggest flaw with the film. Without further ado, see the next paragraph!

Wow! Diablo Cody may be able to write dialogue, but homegirl really needs to work on her storytelling abilities. There is absolutely no suspense in the movie because you immediately realize who’s behind all of the killings. One would think that revealing the killer so early on would make the movie about, oh I don’t know, the comedy and commentary. Yet, the film still tries for suspense and unsurprisingly fails. Hell, the first scene of the movie gives away the ending. Yep, most of the movie is a flashback. NO SUSPENSE!!! There’s no terror! This movie could have easily ramped up the tension and fright if it so desired. Also, Ms. Cody, if you’re reaching for social commentary, try further explaining Jennifer. It’s never clear whether or not her actions are motivated by her or the demon within. Is she trying to expressing her teenage desires with the strength and brutality of a monster, or is the monster controlling her? That would have been nice to know. Also, Needy’s transformation seemed a bit abrupt and underdeveloped. Just saying.

The real bottom line is that I was entertained. However, I couldn’t decide if I was laughing at the movie or laughing with it. In some instances, the dialogue is so over-the-top it seems unintentionally hilarious. I think the movie would have been best served to reject all horror movie conventions and play all of the scenes in a comedic manner. Perhaps Cody set out to create a camp classic. Perhaps she succeeded. However, the muddling mess of a story makes me think that Juno was a fluke and we might have a one-hit wonder on our hands. Did screenwriting kill the Megan Fox star?

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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