Movie News & Reviews

'Jennifer's Body' weirdly ambitious

Just a heads-up, but Jennifer's Body is the most misleadingname I've run into since finding out the Chicago Bears are played byhumans.

-- Times, trailer, theaters.

As background, Jennifer's Body stars Megan Fox, who's widelyperceived as the hottest woman alive right now. As conclusive evidencein favor of this perception, Fox is so hot there's an activecountermovement that dedicates their precious time to arguing she'snot actually as hot as everyone else says. This is a lost cause,gentlemen. Give it up and let's get back to the real issues, such asexactly which season of The Simpsons stopped being funny.

How much, then, of Fox's body do we actually get to see? Damnedlittle. A distant skinny-dipping scene that is no doubt a bodydouble, then a bare back that might be hers, but there's a reason it'scalled a back and not a forward. With that one huge complaint out ofthe way, I'll now officially go on record saying Jennifer'sBody was much better than I expected.

Amanda Seyfried isn't that cool. Megan Fox is. They're best friends attheir small-town high school, but that power/popularity imbalancemeans when Fox says they're going to see a minor indie band at a localbar, they will go to see that band.

During the show, the bar burns down. Fox is abducted by the band. Whenshe comes back, it's as a literal boy-eating monster who requireshuman flesh and blood to keep herself alive.

This might be the low expectations talking, but it wasn't half bad. Iwas rough on writer Diablo Cody's Juno because it was so inlove with its own slang-laden, jeans-burstingly hip dialogue itsuffocated all the good lines under a pillow of hot resentment.

With Jennifer's Body, Cody reels the writing in a little, andthough it's still got a few lines that are too clever for their owngood, the overall restraint makes it possible to enjoy the lines thatdeserve it.

Hilarious? No, but decently funny, especially if you canoverlook the remaining cool-cool signifiers (the guy with a hook hand,the ridiculous lesbian makeout session, and the greatest crime of all,the continued employment of actor's overactor Amy Sedaris).

"Restraint" is hardly the word I'd use to describe the rest of it,wherein a chick who's so sexy she's paid millions of dollars just tostand around being sexy becomes a flesh-eating demon who lures men totheir deaths by making them think she'll get naked with them.

Call it a horror-comedy, then, like Shaun of the Dead orSlither--or more accurately, like one of the horror-comediesyou haven't heard of because they're not terribly special. Both ofthose movies we have heard of are subgenre classics because theyfunction just as well as horror films as they do comedies.

Jennifer's Body doesn't excel on the horror side. Its conceptis funny (especially the specifics of the indie band's involvement),but it's also pretty lazy. The details of Fox's monstrous existencearen't much developed and the way Seyfried exposes her doesn't involveany subtle deductions or crafty plotting, it involves going to alibrary and reading a lot of books, which is almost as boring in amovie as it is in real life.

That's fun enough, in a silly way, it's just not all that satisfying.All of Jennifer's Body is weirdly ambitious — on top of thecross-genre thing, it also seems to be trying to say something aboutfriendship and pop culture — and it's a minor miracle it's not acolossal, confused mess. Instead, it falls into that tricky gray areawhere I can't quite recommend it yet didn't mind when it was on.

Grade: B-