Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jennifer's Body **1/2

Starring Amanda Seyfried, Megan Fox, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody.
Rated R.
Directed by Karyn Kusama.
Written by Diablo Cody.

* * 1/2

Get ready for lots of guts, gore, and whip-smart one-liners in Diablo Cody’s latest creation, which she actually wrote the same year as the Juno screenplay, her 2007 cult favorite. Jennifer’s Body is more than a campy high school horror flick, oozing with overt sexuality; there is an undercurrent of intelligence that separates it from the pack.

Jennifer (Megan Fox) and “Needy” (Amanda Seyfried) are best friends, but they couldn’t be more different. Jennifer is the girl every guy wants: gorgeous, promiscuous, and a bit of a bitch. Needy is a nerd, sporting schlumpy outfits and huge glasses that hide her beauty. She has a steady boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons), who treats her like gold. Jennifer drags Needy to see a band play at a local bar, and starts chatting up the lead singer immediately. The lead singer, Nikolai Wolf, played by a creepy Adam Brody, has a sinister plan for Jennifer, one which will change the lives of everyone in their tiny, odd town of Devil’s Kettle forever.

The film isn’t a showcase of Megan Fox’s acting abilities, although it does put her body on full display. Viewers looking for just “hot” are in for a surprise. In one scene Jennifer shows up in Needy’s house, covered head to toe in blood. She stands silently before Needy, a grin slithering across her face, exposing bloody teeth. There is a look of pure evil behind her dark eyes. Whether or not Fox’s acting chops exist, her possessed cheerleader act is perfectly terrifying.

Through the horror theme, Diablo Cody explores the darker side of high school, the media, fame, and men. All these things work together in one way or another to make life miserable for Needy and Jennifer.

“Hell is a teenage girl,” is the opening line of the movie. Jennifer uses her body to get what she wants and defines herself by what guy she can control and conquer next. Needy is completely caught up in everything her best friend does and seems to idolize her in a strange way. Both girls are focused on these false pretenses of who they are, which sets the scene for the typical hellish high school experience gone horribly awry.

Some of the brutally violent scenes were unnecessary and so was the girl-on-girl action between Seyfried and Fox. Did it really add anything to the story to see them making out on a bed? It only seems to enforce the message that girls’ sole route for power is with their bodies and that sex always sells. If Diablo Cody wants to enforce a message of strong female characters, as she did with Juno, the message gets a little blurry in Jennifer’s Body.

Some of the smaller roles add to the crazy, darkly comedic feel of the film. Adam Brody’s character is his farthest from Seth Cohen yet, and J.K. Simmons (also Juno’s dad) made an appearance or two as a teacher with a mechanical hand. Amy Sedaris plays Needy’s disheveled mother. Jennifer’s Body is twisted, dirty, and creepy, but captivatingly so.

Up next for review, FAME!!

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