Jennifer's Body


Comedy, Horror, SciFi/Fantasy
Jennifer’s Body has a basic rape-revenge plot. Early in the film, stuck-up high-school princess Jennifer (Megan Fox) is brutalized by a bunch of guys (though not explicitly raped); late in the film, the guys get their long-telegraphed bloody comeuppance. Writer Diablo Cody (Juno) and director Karyn Kusama, though, want you to know that they’re smarter and hipper than that suggests, so they carefully distance both of these primal scenes through devices like ironically narrated flashback. Alas, as it turns out being clever with your exploitation tropes tends to just make them boring--especially if you’re not actually all that clever. The movie wanders about searching for a suitable replacement--the evil transformation from Christine? The deadly prom from Carrie? Special effects from the Exorcist? BFF jealousy from Single White Female? Women-in-prison films? Anything? Cody gets off a couple of good lines ("she's actually evil, not high school evil"), and there's a gleefully oleaginous performance by Adam Brody as a black-souled (but still sensitive) indie rocker. Overall, though, the flashes of competence just emphasize the extent to which the film has no idea what it's doing.
Official Site: www.jennifersbody.com
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Diablo Cody
Producer: Daniel Dubiecki, Mason Novick and Jason Reitman
Cast: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, J.K. Simmons, Amy Sedaris, Chris Pratt, Juno Ruddell, Kyle Gallner and Allison Janney

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Reviews / Comments (6)

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Re: “A Supernatural Bitch

It seems as though others that read the movies section have some respect for Noah Berlatsky, and since I don't know him I hesitate to bash his critique of Jennifer's Body. That being said, Noah, you completely missed the mark on this one. The Movie pushes a feminist agenda fairly hard for this day and age. This day and age referring to one where women have won major battles for equality and though some victories remain out of reach, the majority of women are quiet about if not content with the progress the previous generation has made in fighting for woman's rights. You didn't see this because you weren't watching the movie from the right point of view.

I think you were under the assumption that Jennifer, played by Megan Fox, is not only the titular character but also the lead. Moviegoers having that point of view may have been the intention of the marketing directors, but I believe Cody meant Amanda Seyfried's charter Needy to be the lead. This is easily noticed since she is the narrator of the story, the movie opens with her, and she is the only character to undergo a transition in the movie. As you so aptly pointed out the character of Jennifer "was a bitch before she's violated and a bitch after... her transformation into a succubus." Whereas Seyfried's Needy changes from a young high school girl who wants nothing more than to fit in and and cling to the lifeline of popularity that Jennifer represents into a self sufficient, knowledgeable, ass-kicking woman. This is demonstrated further by her name change from "Needy" to "Kicker".

With the opening voice over declaring "hell is a teenage girl" Cody is remarking that the male driven society that has spawned generations of girls that think becoming a woman means being pretty and shallow like Jennifer is hell. For a woman to be forced into playing the role of Jennifer is what hell is like. And we see that, unlike Needy, Jennifer does what is "expected" of a girl in high school; She puts on sexy close and smile, and she quietly proclaims her virginity to the tough men in charge, even though she's not. How many girls do you think say they are virgins because it is what their boyfriends want to hear? And Jennifer gets what ever little girl will if she plays by the boys rules... used. The end result f being used is that she turns into a nightmare for men and uses sex as a weapon, which isn't feminist in the least.

And though I think many would proclaim this film a dissater, Jennifer's Body is actually quite a good movie. It has clever role reversals, like the boyfriend being the victim of innevitable death after sex that is a staple of females in horror films. It boasts great casting, J.K Simmons plays a fantastic supporting role, Adam Brody had everyone rolling with laughter at his quasi-nefarious indie rock villain. The only problem comes in what you highlighted as something that "sparkles." The wanna be hip dialogue is a sad attempt to placate the uneducated preteens that will see this film for all the reasons Cody is saying make a teenage girl hell. Cody is pandering to the all mighty dollar and letting it get the better of her artistic ability. However, were I in her position, I might also think that if even one young woman sees the value of being unconventional, and that girl grows up wanting to be a "kicker," then it was worth it.

- Eric Church

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Posted by EChurch on 09/30/2009 at 12:12 AM

Re: “A Supernatural Bitch

Amy, bless your heart. Thanks.

Tractable, I don't need my horror films to be feminist, necessarily. I love the Friday the 13th movies, for example. I just don't want my intelligence insulted (and yes, the Friday the 13th films are a lot less insulting than Jennifer's Body, in part because they're less pretentious, and in part because they just have a much better sense of what they're doing.)

Eric, you say Needy turns into "a self sufficient, knowledgeable, ass-kicking woman"

She isn't self-sufficient or knowledgeable; she's incarcerated, possessed by a demon, and, as far as I could tell, utterly miserable. The movie seems fairly clear that she hasn't so much found her soul as lost it. Far from gaining independence form Jennifer, she turns into her. I still don't get how any of that is especially inspiring.

"It has clever role reversals, like the boyfriend being the victim of innevitable death after sex that is a staple of females in horror films."

Have you seen many horror films? Guys get offed just about as often as women do. More often in rape-revenge films, of which this is an example. I think the film thinks it's being clever in the supposed role-reversals and in making Jennifer the powerful monster -- but women in horror films really get to be powerful monsters with some frequency.

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Posted by Noah Berlatsky on 09/30/2009 at 4:46 PM

Re: “A Supernatural Bitch

Well, Amy, it *is* a valuable public service for sensitivos like me, who wouldn't be caught dead at a horror film until it's been authoritatively vetted as "feminist."
Now if I could just get some reliable guidance on I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.

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Posted by Tractable on 09/28/2009 at 10:58 AM

Re: “A Supernatural Bitch

Wow, as flimsy as this publication has gotten over the years, you still grant Noah Berlatsky a little space now and then to discuss the feminist merits (or lack thereof) of some recent film/music/book release. And so I will continue to look past the American Apparel ad on your back cover, as long as you continue to offer this valuable public service.

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Posted by Amy on 09/25/2009 at 10:34 AM

Re: “A Supernatural Bitch

"One of which is never have sex, because then you die. This usually is the fate of young woman who have sex, but is instead visited upon the boyfriend in Jennifer's Body."

I've heard the theory. I don't buy it; women who have sex get killed in horror films, and women who don't have sex get killed. Men who have sex get killed, and men who don't have sex, etc. Everything's a crime in horror films, everything gets punished with death. That's kind of the beauty of them.

"Needy also does become knowledgeable. She is the only character in the movie to investigate and discover whats going on"

Yeah. I think they stole the footage from those investigative library scenes directly from Twilight, didn't they?

" I think it would more appropriately be called a well constructed horror satire."

That's certainly what they were trying for.

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Posted by Noah Berlatsky on 10/03/2009 at 7:34 PM

Re: “A Supernatural Bitch

At the end of the film Needy is not possessed. She has been granted some of the power of the demon. This is a fine line I understand, but a classic distinction between those afflicted with a terrible curse and those who use its power to fight back against it; i.e. Blade and Buffy.

Needy also does become knowledgeable. She is the only character in the movie to investigate and discover whats going on. She searches for the information she needs, learns all about the subject, and puts that information to use.

And she does seem somewhat miserable, but that is because she has gone against what society says she aught to be. The world that says she should be more like Jennifer is the same world that tries to lock her away. But, no one can hold back the power of a liberated woman.

Oh, and I was referring to the three rules of surviving a horror film as laid out by Scream. One of which is never have sex, because then you die. This usually is the fate of young woman who have sex, but is instead visited upon the boyfriend in Jennifer's Body. And I agree that men die more often in rape-revenge films, but this can only loosely be categorized as one. I think it would more appropriately be called a well constructed horror satire.

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Posted by EChurch on 09/30/2009 at 7:12 PM
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