Saturday, September 26, 2009

REVIEW: Jennifer's Body...

I hate Juno.

At least the opening 20 minutes of it.

Back in 2007, Diablo Cody burst on the scene like a strippers cleavage, with her Oscar award winning screenplay for Juno. Having a man crush on Jason Reitman (whose previous work was the fantastic Thank You For Smoking), I went to see the film before it's big Oscar push, and was a fan, but underwhelmed coming off of the huge Toronto International Film Festival showings, where that film really got it's buzz. It was a fine film, featuring a brilliant performance from Ellen Page, but was also featuring an overwritten and uninteresting screenplay.

However, for some strange reason, I was still interested in seeing her newest screenplay, Jennifer's Body, which happened to have the director of Aeon Flux at the helm, Karyn Kusama.

I must say, while it's not as good as Juno as a film, it may be just as much fun.

Jennifer's Body follows the nerdy, reserved bookworm Needy and arrogant, conceited cheerleader Jennifer, who are best friends, though they share little in common. They share even less in common when Jennifer mysteriously gains an appetite for human blood after a disastrous fire at a local bar. As Needy's male classmates are steadily killed off in gruesome attacks, the young girl must uncover the truth behind her friend's transformation and find a way to stop the bloodthirsty rampage before it reaches her own boyfriend Chip.

Yes, this film has Megan Fox in it. Yes, this is still a really fun and entertaining film. However, it's not without her trying to throw the film overboard. Not only is she awful in this film, but I personally don't find her attractive, so I don't even get to enjoy looking at her. Sure, she's not the worst actress ever, and she has a line or two here and there, but she's just not given anything to even try to express herself here. That said, I think she is also quite brilliant here, because she fits her role so well. She plays a bitchy, "hot", sexpot, and if I were to ask my friends three adjectives to describe Fox, those would be the exact ones. She's bad in an acting sense, but still somehow makes it work, with perfect casting. Hell, at least she proved to us that she has a deeper acting mine than simply running in slow mo yelling "Sammmmmm!" or sexing up a motorcycle.

That said, the rest of the cast is rather stellar here. The true star of the film is the stunning Amanda Seyfried, as the poorly named Needy, who is the "ugly" girl that the sexpot is friends with (however I will fight to the death with someone telling me that Megan Fox is hotter than Seyfried, because she's not), and is easily the best part of the film. She may not deliver the dialogue as strong as Ellen Page, but I think it may be just as convincing coming of of Seyfried's lips. The biggest surprise here is Adrien Brody, who steals every scene he's in as the lead singer of an emo band who end up being the harbingers of doom for the small little town of Devils Kettle. Pretty prophetic, right? Emo kids as the harbingers of doom. Crazy.

Visually, this film is pretty standard. It's more a film about female relationships and female empowerment than a film about blood and boobs, and almost to a fault. While I deeply enjoy this high school, John Hughes inspired film with horror aspects (instead of the horror film with teen aspects, as the commercials would imply), the film almost shy away to much from being a horror film. Sure, it's full of gore, but it's not as campy and cartoonish as a film like Drag Me To Hell, and the films very own screenplay, would have you believe. It's a B-level teen/sex/horror film that wants to be taken seriously, even when the characters are saying lines like "oh," or "you are so lime green jell-o". It's a really weird mix of tone, and a mix that doesn't work really at all. It's a horror/comedy that fails to be scary or really all that funny.

Also, visually, some of the film just looks really poorly put together. The CG is schlocky, the action is awkward, and the films main plot point, the burning of a bar, is easily one of the most poorly staged pieces of cinema I've seen in a long, long time.

However, when talking about Jennifer's Body, you can't begin or end the conversation without starting with the selling point for us cinephiles, Diablo Cody. While the film is not profound or trying to say anything with the film or it's screenplay, it does give an insight into female relationships. Yes, I know this is not how teen girls speak, but it does point out that teen girls have a sense of language and the ability to just make stuff up on the fly, that really hasn't been mined, at least decently. Sure, Mean Girls, while being a far worse film, does the same thing, but I find this a far more entertaining piece of cinema. Also, the relationship between Needy and Jennifer is a really interesting one, at least in film. The screenplay also has an interesting take on female empowerment, as the character of Jennifer knows exactly what she is able to do not only with the powers she is bestowed, but more so with the enticing (to the occasional blind rodent) her body is. That said, the entire screenplay nearly gets lost in the really awkward direction of Kusama.

All in all, the film works as a B-grade horror/teen/sex/comedy, that is neither scary, nor sexy, nor comedic. It was a fun film to watch, but nothing that I will ever watch again. If you are going to see this, make sure you do it with a group, because that's really the best way to enjoy this master's class in mediocrity.

Jennifer's Body - 6.5/10

Go see something good!


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