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Jennifer’s Body (2009)

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Score: 3/10

Genre: Horror Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.

Release Date: September 18th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Karyn Kusama Actors: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, J. K. Simmons, Amy Sedaris

H

igh school can be hell. And “Jennifer’s Body” makes sure to illustrate this point with tortured friendships, devilish betrayals, and demonic violence. But it also tries too hard to be hip and clever in both its dialogue and its parallels to teen life – while it hammers home the comparisons. It also focuses so much on its self-absorbed wittiness that it can’t pay enough attention to the slasher aspects, leaving viewers with a film that’s part parable, part comedy, part horror, part exploitation, and ultimately not much fun. At least the two female leads can share a passionate kiss, undeterred by the absence of reason and plausibility.

Nerdy, reserved bookworm Needy (Amanda Seyfriend) and arrogant, conceited cheerleader Jennifer (Megan Fox) are best friends, though they share little in common. They grow even more dissimilar when Jennifer mysteriously gains an appetite for human blood after a disastrous fire at a local bar. As Needy’s male classmates are steadily killed off in gruesome attacks, the young girl must uncover the truth behind her friend’s transformation and find a way to stop the bloodthirsty rampage before it reaches her own boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons).

“I wasn’t always this cracked. I used to be normal,” insists Needy at the start of the film. Unfortunately, she’s unconvincing during the course of the next two hours, in which “Jennifer’s Body” ensnarls a pitch-black comedy, an uneasy thriller, a horror slasher, and a teen drama into a hopelessly weird mess. If the trials and tribulations of female high school life can be equated to bizarre occult, demonic possession, then writer Diablo Cody has penned a masterpiece. However, few may agree with her method of proof, especially when the humor is often lifeless, the jump-scare manipulation is timeworn, and the contemporary dialogue is forced.

The purportedly hip lingo spouted from nearly every character (except J.K. Simmons, a solid character actor who has found his way into many recent films) is Cody’s trademark; yet outside of the light-hearted dramatic territory of “Juno,” it’s completely ineffective. “Jennifer Speak” includes a few nominally clever phrases such as “salty morsels” in reference to attractive teens, “lime green Jell-O” for jealousy, and “sea cucumber” for… masculinity. Most of it isn’t nearly as catchy or epigrammatic as it is simply peculiar.

And finally, everyone interested in the film purely for the ample measures of Megan Fox will be disappointed to learn that no real nudity emerges in the film, except for a slow-motion, unrevealing skinny dip and a gratuitous girl-on-girl makeout session between Fox and Seyfried. Neither makes up for the sparseness of such material. The film doesn’t have a large enough body count for a slasher, not enough high school angst for a teen dramedy, not enough debauchery for exploitation, and not enough original material for entertainment.

– The Massie Twins

 



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