Jennifer’s Body is one of those movies that just can’t make up its damn mind. It’s one of the most frustrating movies you’ll watch this year at the theaters. Does it want to be a spoof of horror films? Does it want to be a regular, run-of-the-mill gorefest? Is it a literal metaphor for how teenage girls are expected to act in today’s society, that being a “man-eater,” as they call it, is okay? The film has bits and pieces of each of those things, but never manages to pick one and stick with it.
Diablo Cody has become widely known for penning the hip teen drama Juno. She also created and writes the show United States of Tara. Tara has split personalities, but they mesh together into a coherent, often humorous storyline. Cody’s new creation, Jennifer’s Body, suffers from the same split personality syndrome, but just can’t seem to recover from it.
Megan Fox, Hollywood’s up-and-coming resident hottie, plays Jennifer. Like every other portrayal of a hot girl in high school that’s ever been put to film, Jennifer seems to own everyone. She’s got the town in the back pocket of her skinny jeans. Her best friend however is a nerdy girl named Needy (Amanda Seyfried). Seyfried is an attractive actress and it appears that Cody is trying to riff on the Hollywood stereotype that an attractive girl is made unattractive by a ratty pony tail and glasses. This is one of the few gems that can be found within this mess of a movie.
When the movie ventures into spoofing horror movies in general, it works to a degree. Take for example a virginal sacrifice scene. What would happen if those performing said sacrifice were really nonchalant about it and didn’t really know if it would work or not, but to them there was nothing to lose so they did it anyway. It’s funny, and the witty dialogue works well. But, at other times, like when a bar is burning down and people are burning alive, the same witty, hip writing falls on deaf ears because of the senseless carnage happening around them for no apparent reason.
There are also times where the movie veers into the old clichéd horror movie happenings without having something satirical to say. When people walk off into dark rooms, around blind corners, and down deserted hallways it’s because that’s exactly what the movie is asking them to do. Cody excels at calling out some of the horror genre’s pitfalls, and yet on the other hand adds them into the script as natural elements of the story.
As the trailers have made perfectly clear, Jennifer is half bitchy teenage girl and half man-eating demon from the netherworld. She heals quickly, rips boys limb from limb, and well just does demonic stuff. Fox has no idea how to deliver Cody’s dialogue. For the most part it’s unintentionally funny or meant to be funny but veers off into the stupid.
Needy’s boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons), is a bright spot in an otherwise dim movie experience. Every scene he’s in is hilarious or thoughtful or both. He’s funny without trying. He has perfect comedic timing. A more interesting movie could’ve been made out of the life and times of Chip. Forget the whole demon Jennifer angle; I want to see this quirky, genuinely nice kid get into some teenage shenanigans.
Jennifer’s Body will most likely draw out the fanboy population hoping to get a glimpse of Megan Fox’s intimates. They’ll be disappointed. I think the constant stream of walkouts in the screening I was in speaks for itself. The movie is messier than the carnage left behind by one of Jennifer’s snacks.