Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jennifer's Body

JENNIFER'S BODY (Karyn Kusama, 2009)

In JENNIFER'S BODY Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried are unlikely best friends who find themselves at odds when one of them becomes possessed by a demon. Carrying the unflattering nickname Needy, Seyfried's character is a regular teenager who has always played second fiddle to Fox's Jennifer, the hottest girl in high school.

Jennifer knows how desirable and popular she is and flaunts the power her looks give her. The wounds Jennifer inflicts are purely emotional until a demon enters her body and takes control.

Rather than an out-and-out horror film, JENNIFER'S BODY is a supernatural high school dark comedy with a feminist bent courtesy of director Karyn Kusama and JUNO screenwriter Diablo Cody. In blending so many genres it's inevitable that JENNIFER'S BODY is somewhat confused about its identity and can't withstand the strain of a disjointed plot. An inciting tragedy and Jennifer and Needy's connection are among the points that lack sufficient explanation for what follows in the film.

Kusama and Cody aim to examine the power and fear of female sexuality, particularly among adolescents, but the muddled second half can't fulfill their ambitions. Seyfried, the film's true lead, turns in a solid and sensitive performance while Fox fails to locate the nuance in her character. She's not entirely to blame. The script doesn't clarify her motivation for a decision in a key scene and then leaves the audience in the dark about what makes her behave so monstrously.

Cody has received some backlash for her signature slang-heavy dialogue. Such criticism has merit, mainly because of the showy but empty nature of her words, but her sharp conversations occasionally draw blood and laughs, such as when she takes on disparate subjects as the tween flick AQUAMARINE and 9/11 fetishization.

Like a girl transforming into a woman during adolescence, JENNIFER'S BODY aspires to be smart, hip, sexy, and scary. Kusama and Cody don't fully succeed in making JENNIFER'S BODY as clever as intended, but in deploying Fox's physical allure as a weapon in the film and to prospective viewers of it, they unleash some potent ideas and subvert the genre.

Grade: C

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