Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Out on DVD today: Jennifer's Body

You know the way you find yourself wincing at someone who is trying to be funny and failing miserably? That's the feeling Jennifer's Body leaves you with.

Which is disappointing, because it has so much going for it. For one, it's written by pop culture maven and ultimate snark goddess, Diablo Cody - the wit behind Showtime's excellent drama The United States of Tara and screenwriter for the Oscar-winning Juno. The idea behind the movie has potential: a sort of feminist horror movie told from a female perspective. It has a great soundtrack that includes Dashboard Confessional and Screeching Weasel. Plus, it stars Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!, Big Love), an up-and-coming actress whose screen time here is one of the bright points of the whole hot mess. But neither Seyfried or Cody can save Jennifer's Body - it's just one big train wreck of a movie and even the slang that Cody is so famous for falls flat in this so-called horror-comedy that is, sorry to say, not much of either. 

The movie revolves around two high school friends who only have their history in common - that and their latent bi-curious fixation on each other, which is never head-on addressed (other than a kissing scene thrown seemingly in to reel in an audience). One of the teenage friends is Jennifer (Megan Fox), a cheerleading vixen who is clearly riddled with insecurities - but that's not really addressed in depth, either. The other is Needy, her best friend, who basically worships Jennifer and also feels a need to protect her. One night, following a fire at a local bar, Jennifer goes off with some visiting band members who happen to be Satanists seeking a virgin to sacrifice. They mistake the slutty Jennifer for their virgin and plunge a knife into her - but she doesn't die. Instead, her body is inhabited by a demon that compels her to eat teenage boys. There never seems to be a distinction between normal Jennifer and possessed Jennifer, though. In fact, there doesn't seem to be much change outside of cannibalism and spewing black bile to indicate that she's not the same girl – mostly because she was pretty awful to begin with. Perhaps the failing is in Fox's acting, but I'm not so sure - even Seyfried, who actually brings life to her character, can't seem to bring life to this script.

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