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All Body, No Brains
by Martin Malloy on Sep 18, 2009
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars.
Since Juno introduced Diablo Cody to the world and garnered her an Oscar for best original screenplay, she wasn't completely welcomed with open arms. While the film started out as the underdog, it soon swept the nation and caused just as hefty a backlash. Whether or not one agrees with the praise bestowed on the film, at worst it was a charming, quirky indie comedy built upon a solid script. Naturally, the new "it" girl has a lot riding on her sophomore script and unfortunately for Cody, Jennifer's Body won't be the film that silences her detractors.
Femme fatale Megan Fox also has a lot riding on Jennifer's Bodyís success. Known for, ironically, her body, most notably in Michael Bay's Transformer films, Jennifer's Body is the film that's supposed to showcase Megan Fox -- the actress. It's too bad she picked another film in which her character's greatest asset is not her mind but, you guessed it, her looks. As Jennifer, Devil Kettle High School's resident hottie, she does little but prance around in skimpy outfits zinging Diablo Cody quips like "Morning Monistat". Whether or not that signifies an entertaining film to you, it hardly does much for Fox's reputation as more than something nice to look at.
Perhaps she and Cody both believed that taking her reputation as a mindless beauty and turning it, literally, into a fatal attraction would be a satirical wink worthy of Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation or Simon Pegg's numerous genre comedies. But what Fox and Cody don't realize is that the joke of Kaufman's Adaptation is that we know he isn't really a failure and Simon Pegg produces genre parodies that almost better the originals they lovingly attack. Jennifer's Body does nothing but reinforce Fox's stature as purely physical and little more.
Like Juno, Jennifer's Body investigates the saga of high school girls. Only this time instead of comedy deriving from the situation at hand, Cody's eye is persistently winking, but at what is unclear. Is Jennifer an allegory of the raging hormones that exist within a teenage girl? Who knows? But all the blame shouldn't be laid at Cody and Fox's feet. Much of it is the fault of director Karyn Kusama, as well. Having Aeon Flux and Girl Fight as her only films on resume isnít encouraging. Maybe she also hoped attaching herself to an award-winning writer would boost her career. Whether or not the original material was strong, she gives us a film that is uneven in style and leaves many gaping holes.
There is a potential that exists underneath all the mess, especially the capacity to bring a strong female dominated film experience to the screen. However that dream is dashed when Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox share a lustful kiss that is, again, obviously meaningful to those involved but feels shallow for the viewer.
A story about the most popular girl in high school terrorizing and eating boys is not a bad idea. Cody's initial idea was strong and the genesis of the demon being that of an indie band wishing so bad to make it that they make a sacrifice to Satan is genuinely funny. But when the character's complain about the lame music of said "poser" band (led amusingly by Adam Brody) while listening to Fall Out Boy, the charm is immediately lost. It's not the idea that makes Jennifer's Body DOA, it's the failed execution of that idea on every level that leaves a film that is at times amusing, but mostly something that confuses itself with intelligent social satire.
by Martin Malloy on Sep 18, 2009