Review: Jennifer’s Body

Megan’s…I mean Jennifer’s Body is Juno scribe Diablo Cody’s follow-up to her witty, intelligent comedy-drama about teen pregnancy.

Directed by: Karyn Kusama
Written by: Diablo Cody
Starring: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Brody
Released: 2009 / Genre: Horror / Country: USA / IMDB
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Discover more: Read my review of Jennifer’s Body writer Diablo Cody’s far better Juno

Will Megan Fox ever make a film where, at some point, usually her introduction, the camera does not tilt up and down her body. Of course, for a film aptly named Jennifer’s Body, or as the case is here, Megan’s Body, the voyeuristic perversion of the camera lens is possibly merited. I’m sure the teenage boy target market would agree. But I can only think everyone else is getting a little tired of seeing sex symbol Fox parading up and down film sets with sultry eyes and pouting lips. I don’t think I’d mind so much if the suggestive nature of her sexual brand passed its PG-13 underwear rule. She’s such a tease. But then again that might make her more San Fernando Valley (San Pornando Valley as it is known by those that live there) than Beverly Hills.

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What intrigued me most before seeing Jennifer’s Body (not, I might add, how much fun you could have with the title in a review) was that it was written by Juno scribe Diablo Cody. However, in hindsight, Juno is looking more and more like a one-hit wonder for the Illinois-born writer. With Jennifer’s Body and Burlesque added to the C.V., she hasn’t much to shout about since her witty, intelligent screenplay about teenager pregnancy. The teen horror film she gives us here, that also stars Amanda Seyfried, is a cross between American Pie without the jokes and Fright Night without the jokes, the scares or the colourful characters. That doesn’t leave us with much.

At a high school in the small town of Devil’s Kettle we meet two best friends – Needy (Amanda Seyfried) and Jennifer (Megan Fox). What you need to know about these two can be summed up as the following: Needy wears glasses, Jennifer wears make-up and a short skirt. They decide to go to the local bar to see an up-and-coming band named Low Shoulder. Jennifer tries to seduce the lead singer Nikolai (Adam Brody) but Needy intervenes, lying to him that she is a virgin and therefore won’t sleep with him. But this interests Nikolai and the rest of the band as it becomes apparent they are looking for a virginal teen for some reason or other.

When a fire breaks out, Needy and Jennifer have to make a hasty getaway. Outside the burning building it becomes apparent many people are trapped inside but the band, and its lead singer Nikolai appear to have made it out with little trouble. Nikolai invites Jennifer into his truck and she obliges against Needy’s better wishes. Needy makes it home only to find a battered and bruised Jennifer who proceeds to devour a roasted chicken from the fridge. But she can’t digest it and throws up Exorcist-style all over her friend’s kitchen floor. She won’t tell her what happened and eventually leaves. Next day at school, Jennifer appears completely fine. However, away from Needy’s eyes, she takes the school’s football captain into the woods and, her face transforming into that of a demon, proceeds to tear him apart limb from limb. How long will it be until Needy discovers Jennifer’s secret?

jennifer's body, diablo cody, juno,

It is difficult discussing the plot of Jennifer’s Body as it doesn’t really have one. It begins in the present and then through flashback we are told the central part of the story. Its key problem is that its antagonist is far too ambiguous. Jennifer just goes around killing people for no reason. Needy is oblivious even though she knows something must have happened, and the most important factor is ignored until an after-thought ending tacked onto the credit sequence. The mysterious band (why they wanted a virgin, and what they did to Jennifer when they took her) is where the interest lies and yet they take a backseat. It is made more troublesome by Needy’s complete ignorance to their involvement in Jennifer’s odd behaviour. When the revelations do come I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for both Jennifer and her body.

Jennifer’s Body is neither a good horror film nor an interesting drama about teen adolescence. I wouldn’t even say it achieves its goal of enticing young teenage boys by the promise of a scantily clad Megan Fox. Cody has said she wanted the film to speak about female empowerment and explore the complex relationships between best friends. I can only guess, since the film does neither, there was a significant breakdown of communication between the writer and director. I’d avoid Jennifer’s Body, not because it isn’t mighty fine to look at, but because it’s horribly malnourished at its core.

Review by Daniel StephensSee all reviews

This review is part of 31 Days of Horror:

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    amy Reply

    “Jennifer’s Body is neither a good horror film nor an interesting drama about teen adolescence.”

    But you gotta admit, it is kinda funny.

    I think the only part of the film that work, at least for me, was the beginning sequence with Amanda Seyfried being violent. xD

  2. Avatar
    Will Reply

    Ugh, I HATED this one. I, like you, thought that with Diablo Cody writing and the horror genre, there would at least be something marginally worthwhile about this. Wow, I was shocked at just how devoid of entertainment value it was though. I was not a big fan of Juno, but I did think that Cody showed some talent, but after this I have to wonder. I totally agree with you, “malnourished” is an excellent way of putting it.

  3. Avatar
    Custard Reply

    I saw this a long time ago. I cannot remember now whether I hated it as much as you Dan or whether I gave it a pass….

    I am not going to re watch it now though. Great write up my friend

  4. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Amy: I didn’t find it funny at all. Painful and devoid of entertainment – definitely. Funny – no.

    @Will: Good to hear Will. I avoided this one for a long time but decided to watch it as part of my horror film marathon. As you can see I found it beyond disappointing. Glad you agree.

    @Custard: Great to see you back Scott. I hope you had a good holiday. Yes, I’d advise you to pass on this one to protect your sanity.

  5. Avatar
    Claire Reply

    Haha, this was never on my ‘to watch’ list and I am going to happily keep avoiding it! 😀

  6. Avatar
    DEZMOND Reply

    When I come to think about it I’ve never actually liked anything Diablo Cody wrote, except UNITED STATES OF TARA, but even there, the show is saved by Toni Collette’s magnificent not by the script which gets terribly boring at moments.

  7. Avatar
    Paragraph Film Reviews Reply

    I’m going to sound crazy, but watched this yesterday and really enjoyed it (although did think it could have been a bit better).

    It just reminded me of decent teen horror films like Idle Hands and The Faculty, where the film’s main focus is on high-school culture, and everything else is secondary.

    Thought the script was also littered with great throwaway jibes and references – and the people slicing her up whilst singing Jenny 8675309…

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