Directed by Karyn Kusama
Starring Amanda Seyfried, Megan Fox, J.K. Simmons, Adam Brody, Johnny Simmons
Written by Diablo Cody
Okay I need to admit, I did not think that Juno was the end all be all of cinema. It was nice to see the unborn child treated like it was alive for a change, but there was a lot of free rein given when it was born. As a result, when Jennifer’s Body was released, you had kind of a combination of the phony backlash you get when critics review sequels along with the realization that Diablo Cody was not the second coming of Shakespeare…or Nora Ephron. That said, the goal of this movie never seems to be acceptance in the mainstream. Instead, what you have is a want, like my friend Miller says, “to be a non-conformist, like everyone else.”
To that end, I approached this movie with the mindset that the writer, Cody, and director, Kusama, intended to create another Heathers, problem is, Heathers wasn’t all that good, either. Most interviews, she mentions movies like The Lost Boys as inspiration. Jennifer’s Body shows everybody in the school (students and staff) as cogs in the wheel of convention, and the main characters are the only ones’s with common sense. In this tired environment, you have Seyfried channeling Winona Rider and Fox doing her best Christian Slater.
Starting out in jail, you see Seyfried’s Anita “Needy” Lesnicki doing her best Brando. Backstory kicks in, and you see that she has played second fiddle to popular Jennifer Check. Of course the Needy is to be a doormat to begin with and Jennifer takes her everywhere she wants her to go.
One of these places is to a Podunk bar to see a no name band, Low Shoulder. What follows is one of the most inexplicable moments of the film. A fire that starts slowly over the band, for some reason kills all but the band and the principle characters. So what does the band do next, but they take Jennifer off and Needy goes back home.
Later Jennifer shows up all bloody, raid’s Needy’s fridge, and then throws up on her. The next day, amidst some very unconvincing mourning by all the stereotypical lemming kids and staff, Jennifer eats the biggest, dumbest kid in school. From there, it’s only a matter of time before we find out what she is, why, and how she really just wanted to ruin Needy’s life the entire time anyway. Along the way you get to see some cat fighting, sex, death, misunderstandings and Needy ending up in the clink.
To say I hated this movie is way overstating it. There was nothing distinctly bad about any of it. There was nothing particularly good, either. Megan Fox is what you’d expect, and nothing more. Seyfried shows not much of the charisma that has won her an audience with movies like Momma Mia and Letters To Juliet. Sure she is supposed to be plain Jane, but she lacks charisma even when she stops being a wallflower. Adam Brody and the band are sufficiently hate able, and the fate that befalls them is what amounts to a highpoint for the film.
Cody intimated that she never intended to make the film a comedy, but comedic elements seemed to work their way in. They did not work their way far enough in, though. Several lines seemed like they would have been funny on paper, but they do not mix well with the action as it is being presented on the screen. The overall effect is not as much off-putting, but clunky.
All of this can be said of the movie, Heathers, so I will not deliberate further. If you liked the older movie, you’d probably like this one.
(** out of *****)