Movie Review: Jennifer’s Body

When I heard that Megan Fox was starring in Jennifer’s Body as Jennifer, I was inspired by the associative property to review this film.

Fox’s body graces the screen in the role of a demonic high school cheerleader with an “insatiable hunger for boys.” As Jennifer seduces, then literally eats her male classmates, best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfriend) attempts to bring a stop to the murders while trying to protect herself.

Diablo Cody, the stripper-turned-screenwriter who won an Oscar and a moment atop the Indie movie world for her 2007 debut, Juno, penned this horror-comedy.

I would never have expected a scary movie from the writer of Juno, but stop for a second to think about what Cody is getting at. She exploits the horror in the worst-case scenario fears that sleeping with a virgin might get her pregnant and giving in to the temptation of a promiscuous woman might kill you.

Cody once again tells a story about the complications of teen sex. There’s a lot more of it in Jennifer’s Body, but just as Ellen Page’s character learned in her title role, those who have sex in Cody’s world suffer consequences. There are many conventional similarities between Jennifer’s Body and Juno. Like Page’s Juno, Seyfried’s Needy narrates the story, has a supremely attractive best friend, leans on an innocently supportive boyfriend, and uses overly clever lingo while trying to deal with a predicament.

Music is equally important to Jennifer’s Body as it was to Juno. The acoustic sounds of The Moldy Peaches and Kimya Dawson popularly helped create the latter’s tone, and the bands enlisted for the Jennifer’s Body soundtrack reach for the same effect with consideration to its genre. Besides a rock ballad by the fictional band Low Shoulder (led by Adam Brody, lip synching vocals by No Country’s Ryan Levine), there’s not much memorable here.

Bottom line: Jennifer’s Body is a mix of frequent disappointment and occasional standout moments. There are a few very funny situations, but the dialogue overall is mediocre. When the movie went for scares, it never quite made me jump.

I went into the theater wondering how this movie could only gross $6.8 million on its opening weekend, and I left puzzled by directorial choices that seem to answer that question. I added $9.50 to the pot hoping to see Jennifer’s body, and the movie falters in fulfilling this pivotal need. Fox tries to multiply hot with creepy, and the positive times the negative results in a negative. Nothing here comes close to the car hood scene in Transformers that has kept Megan Fox a top Google image search for the past two years.

As far as acting is concerned, Seyfried is serviceable as a voice of reason caught up in a bad situation. Fox does everything she can to be sultry and scary at the same time, but when the credits roll, you will be left thinking exactly what you thought before you walked in: how awesome this movie could be.

Director Karyn Kusama does a disappointing job with regard to Fox. While she recognizes that Fox’s appeal involves some real-life creepiness to begin with, she is wrong to think that Fox is attractive because of this creepiness. Most people do find Megan Fox attractive, but probably not while she projectile vomits black venom after tearing through a Boston Market turkey leg with her bare hands. Kusama is unable to properly place Fox in situations that accentuate her looks. She does succeed, however, in poorly directing another rising star.

Kusama last directed Charlize Theron in the 2005 flop Aeon Flux. Theron had entered the Hollywood A-List, coming off a box office smash with The Italian Job, and a celebrated Oscar win for Monster. Since, Theron has starred in a series of mostly critical misses and blips on the public radar. Considering her roles preceding the experience with Kusama, Charlize flaunts an unfortunate before and after picture.

Jennifer’s Body marks a major turning point in Megan Fox’s career. The $720 million worth of people who lined up to see Optimus Prime transform, Shia LaBeouf grow up, and Fox look good are only given the latter reason to go out and see this movie. While the story is told from Seyfried’s perspective, Fox is the entire focus–from the title to the advertisements to the lead billing. Jennifer’s Body should serve as a forecast for Fox’s bankability as a leading actress for these reasons. With Kusama guiding the way, hopefully Fox will not be steered onto the same path that Theron followed.

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