Oh Jennifer’s Body, how you and I have a very interesting history. I actually remember this was one of the first leaked scripts I found on the Internet months before it got released. It was surreal and gave me some great lessons in screenwriting. I digress, with a decade between me and my previous viewing of the film I decided; maybe it was time to give this film a second look. Had the years been kind to this film? Chris Stuckmann recently posted a review looking back on Jennifer’s Body very favorably. Would I find a new appreciation or respect for something I considered an okay horror/comedy that just didn’t hit all the marks for my personal tastes? The answer is… somewhat.
The funny thing, in the intervening years from 20’s to my 30’s everything I liked about the film I now enjoy even more. 2009 was a gangbusters year for Amanda Seyfried. Yes, she already had Mean Girls, Alpha Dog, Mama Mia!, and a personal favorite Veronica Mars on her resume, but this and Chloe showed me personally that she had a lot of levels. Needy gives us a character that felt semi-realistic. I knew girls like her in high school. They were my friends that I’d sit with and we’d laugh at our own jokes. We’d discuss books and movies and have fun.
“I am scrumptious!”
I also still enjoy the relationship dynamic between her and her boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons). A pair who is in the throes of teenage love and Chip is actually sweet. He’s a caring guy who loves and respects Needy. And the moment where they lose their virginity juxtaposed with Jennifer murdering a guy is fantastic editing. Seeing two people who love each other sharing and enjoying such a personal moment and not shaming them is a nice change of pace. But cross-cutting between that and Jennifer murdering and devouring an emo kid is brilliant.
This is where I segue into another highlight for me, Karyn Kusama’s direction. I had loved Girlfight (damn I need to rewatch it ASAP), but Aeon Flux suffered from studio interference becoming a forgettable 00’s sci-fi film that didn’t do justice to the original anime. She was able to properly balance the tonal shifts between laughs and gasps. We take for granted how many great horror/comedies have been made, but we always forget it’s a tough nut to crack. Stray too far into either genre and you spoil the entire film. I am grateful to her strong eye and wish The Destroyer had done better business. Can someone please get her another film ASAP?!
“It smells like Thai food in here.”
We all knew this wasn’t going to be all wine and roses, so now to the part of the review that will get me a lot of flack. Megan Fox has come a long way in the decade-plus since this film, but in these early years, she was a little green. There are moments where she is absolutely fantastic showing the insecurity of Jennifer juxtaposed to the confidence she exudes. Then you have moments where she takes a swing at the dialogue and it’s a miss. This brings me to the next issue I still have with Jennifer’s Body.
“Did you hear what Colin Gray looked like when they found him?”
Diablo Cody was riding high on the post-Juno Oscar win. Everyone in Hollywood wanted to work with the new “IT” girl. I commend her for taking on a genre often rampant with misogyny. We needed to get away from the virginal final girl tropes and were slowly doing so in the late 90’s and 00’s. The big thing is the dialogue. What worked in Juno was a small problem here. I’ve often stated early Cody scripts required a performer who could make her heightened dialogue work. Unfortunately, there are moments (the Thai food sex joke, lime Jell-O, and 9/11 memorial drink) that stick out like sore thumbs.
I will admit that I was able to enjoy Jennifer’s Body more reassessing my opinions. I just wish that Megan Fox had gotten more on her filmography (Three of her seven credits before this were directed by Michael Bay. Not a director who is known for working with his actors on crafting nuanced performances). Between that and had Cody done a little tweaking with the script this would’ve been gangbusters. It’s definitely earned its cult status and is worth giving a second look if like me, but I am still not convinced it’s the iconic horror comedy some have made it out to be.
Overall Score 3/5
The Shameless Plugs
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