Last night I watched the post-Transformers Megan Fox stardom vehicle known as Jennifer’s Body. I had heard some interesting things about this horror-comedy movie wherein Megan Fox becomes a blood-drinking succubus.
One of the things I had read about the movie was that Megan Fox proved that she was more than just eye candy. She could actually act people said. The other aspect of this movie that was interesting to me was that the movie was written by Diablo Cody. She is famous for writing the movie Juno–which I hated with a passion. She won an academy award for Juno so I wanted to give her another chance and see if it was just that one specific movie I would hate. Before I comment on these two topics though, I should give you a little synopsis of the plot of Jennifer’s Body.
The movie begins and we learn that the protagonist of our story, a girl named “Needy” is in prison because of some recent transgressions. We will learn about these transgressions through her subsequent narration. The first thing we find out is that the story takes place in a small, remote town known as “Devil’s Kettle.” The Devil’s Kettle is actually a mysterious waterfall that is unique because it drains into a whirlpool at its base– and even scientists can’t figure out where the water goes.
We find out that Needy has been best friends with another girl since childhood who is gorgeous, has big boobs, and through every possible distinction has a polar opposite personality to that of Needy. This is Jennifer, played as you can probably guess by Megan Fox.
One night the two friends decide to go to a bar to hear a rock band that Jennifer likes. She makes it no question that she wants to have sex with the lead singer of the band. Despite some ominous signs, like a freakish fire burning down the bar and killing several people inside, Jennifer leaves the bar hastily with the band in their van. Later that night Jennifer makes her way back to Needy’s house, covered in blood and looking evil. She’s been transformed into some kind of a zombie/vampire/werewolf creature that we later find out is technically a “succubus.” Jennifer then launches a blood sucking rampage upon the teenage boys of Devil’s Kettle.
This is the basic plot of Jennifer’s Body, and if you think I’ve given away secrets to the plot, don’t worry– all of these events take place fairly early on in the movie. So is Megan Fox any good in this movie? Well, my feeling is that she was competent in taking on a fairly easy role. In other words, she’s definitely not incompetent, but I think we’ll need a couple more performances before we can really decide if she’s more than just a pretty face. It doesn’t really help that she was clearly cast in the movie to capitalize on her sex appeal and girl-of-the-moment fame.
As for the quality of the movie itself, I didn’t find Diablo Cody’s writing as obnoxious as it was in Juno. Nonetheless, the movie is not really worth recommending. The main problems with the movie as I see them are 1) its poor editing and 2) its poor articulation of a conceptual message. This is the rare movie that has a big budget feel where the editing of scene transitions just seems amateurish. The scenes seem so internally choppy at times that I wonder if the director often just took one or two takes for moments in the movie that seemed less important to the story and then used this footage for the final product. Some of the best jokes in the movie are muted too quickly because of this shoddy editing.
As for the conceptual messaging of the movie, if Diablo Cody thinks that basically telling us that being a nerd is better than being hot, then I doubt she’s going to be writing the scripts for too many more movies. I really couldn’t interpret the movie in any other way: the boys get eaten up by a hot succubus and the nerdy girl known as “Needy” eventually perseveres and becomes empowered. This isn’t necessarily a bad message, but it is not executed well enough in this movie to make it seem meaningful.
I should also make note that the teenage boys in the film are also portrayed in only two ways: as easily manipulated sensitive types or self-centered jerks. The only adult male in the movie is a professor. He shows up in only a few short scenes, and without any explanation has a hook for a hand. WTF?
One final thought I should make is that if there’s ever any missed opportunity in Jennifer’s Body, it’s the weak utilization of the Devil’s Kettle waterfall. It does play into the plot of the movie, but this rather original and creative idea is mostly wasted. If you take the time to watch this movie you will see what I mean. What a shame.