Monday, September 21, 2009

Jennifer Juniper Feeds Upon The Kill

To my great surprise, Jennifer's Body didn't suck. Not only did it not suck, it also didn't blow, choke or bite. I feel no desire to compare watching the movie to having diarrhea. It's hardly a great movie but it does get assigned to my favorite movie-going-experience category: The Pleasant Surprise.

The fact that Jennifer's Body was written by Juno scribe Diablo Cody didn't raise expectations with me. I was wondering of this was something she'd written ten years earlier that she could suddenly sell thanks to the fact that Juno has made her one of the few screenwriters whose name is actually known by the general public. My ambivalence about Diablo Cody was coupled with the visceral reaction I had when I saw that director Karyn Kusama's last movie was the godawful Aeon Flux. Add to the mix the fact that star Megan Fox is not famous for her Streep-like acting skills and you have a recipe for suck. Instead, as I said, it doesn't.

Roger Ebert described this movie as, "Twilight for boys," a comparison I found odd as stuff actually happened in this movie other than two young people standing around for 90 minutes declaring their love before the first action scene finally occured. Diablo Cody's dialogue was sharp and quirky as opposed to Twilight's endless recitation of, "um," and, "uh, yeah." People actually seemed to have a range of emotions in Jennifer's Body whereas the characters in Twilight swung back and forth between morose and clinically depressed.

The story opens in a mental hospital where we meet Amanda Seyfried's character Needy Lesnicky*. She's there because something horrible happened a few months earlier. Those of us who saw the trailer have a fairly decent idea of what that was but the movie goes back and tells us anyway. In Needy's flashback, we meet her best friend, Jennifer Check (Megan Fox). Jennifer and Needy have been best friends since childhood which is why the super hot head cheerleader high school queen still hangs out with the unattractive Needy. Yeah, I know. I pointed out on Saturday how ridiculous it was to cast Amanda Seyfried as the Plain Best Friend Of The Hot Girl but the film makers refused to pull the movie out of theaters and reshoot it with a less attractive actress so we have to take what we're given. This, for me, is one of the movie's biggest sticking points. Repeating something I said in comments, I didn't know when I wrote this just how hideous Needy was supposed to be. People talk about her as if she was misshapen and covered with warts. Her boyfriend, Chip, seems to be dating her out of pity.

All that aside, the pleasant high school existence and the predictable roles they play in it are upset when a band decides to sacrifice Jennifer to get a hit record. I bet you think I made that part up. Unfortunately, they screwed something up and Jennifer ended up getting possessed by a flesh eating demon. The story could then have become a standard assembly line teen horror flick but, an action I'm sure gave many studio executives ulcers, it insists on doing things a little differently. The film makers, for some reason, thought it would be a good idea to have interesting characters, complex relationships and memorable dialogue tossed into the endless gore and violence. Let's hope the audience doesn't insist on seeing more of that in their horror films or we might not get any more Saw sequels.

Oh, almost forgot the shock of shocks. Megan Fox actually turned in a good performance. I suppose I really had no basis for being convinced that the opposite would be true. It's not her fault that her biggest acting break was a movie where Michael Bay poured her into a mini dress and made her provocatively bend over a car.

You could do a lot worse than Jennifer's Body when choosing your evening's entertainment, something I suppose I'll be saying a year or two from now when the sequel comes out. Maybe it will be set a few years later and Angelina Jolie can star as the hottie who is friends with a physically disgusting girl played by Jessica Alba.

*Diablo Cody is nothing if not subtle.

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