Review by Michael Jacobson
Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody
Director: Karyn Kusama
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 102 Minutes
Release Date: December 29, 2009
“No, I mean she’s ACTUALLY evil. Not high school evil.”
Jennifer’s Body is a tale of two movies; a juggling act that tries for a second ball when it really should have just stuck to one.
I was actually surprised when I saw the box and learned for the first time that the movie was penned by Diablo Cody, the talented writer who earned an Oscar for her screenplay for Juno. I remember seeing many ads for Jennifer’s Body, but I don’t recall a single mention of Ms. Cody’s presence on the script…talk about a missed marketing opportunity.
However, had I not seen her name, I could have guessed who was responsible for the dialogue. As with Juno, this screenplay bubbled along with hilarious and insightful dialogue, and on one hand, this might have been the single funniest movie of last year. Might.
The problem is that this movie does not want to be an insightful look at peer pressures, high school friendships and the problems of maturity. It wants to be a horror movie. Had it been the former, it probably would have made my top ten list for the year. As the latter, it quickly becomes silly and awkward.
It stars Megan Fox as…actually, let me stop and contemplate that beautiful phrase for just a moment. Mmm…
Okay, I have work to do. It stars Megan Fox as Jennifer, the popular teenage girl who rules the school in her small town of Devil’s Kettle. Her best friend makes for an odd mix, a girl named Anita but called “Needy” by everyone (Seyfried). While Jennifer is adventurous, sharp-tongued and outspoken, Needy is nerdy, more reserved, and far less daring.
Jennifer wants Needy to come with her to see a new indie band at the town’s local bar. But a fire breaks out, killing most everyone apart from the two girls and the band. And against Needy’s advice, Jennifer accepts the invitation of singer Nikolai (Brody) and leaves with the group in their van.
The next time Needy sees Jennifer, all is not well. And soon it will be up to her and her stalwart boyfriend Chip (Simmons) to figure out if something truly bad is now lurking under all that beauty.
I’ve just described the horror aspect of the movie, and as I said, making this a scare film was a bad choice. There is so much at play here about rivalries, growing up, sexuality and more, and all delivered with Diablo Cody’s distinctive verbiage and wit. This movie boasts one of the single funniest and probably most true losing-your-virginity scenes I’ve ever come across. The screenplay is best when it has fun with such honest moments, rather than by having a girl impaled on a pole asking for a tampon.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Diablo Cody is the real deal, and not even a misjudgment like Jennifer’s Body can deter me from eagerly anticipating her next screenplay. But horror is not her forte.
No complaints here…this is a solid and virtually flawless high definition offering from Fox. Like many scare movies, this film has plenty of darker sequences, and they render beautifully on Blu-ray, with amazing detail and clarity. Brighter scenes show terrific and natural looking coloring and superb contrast. No complaints at all.
The DTS HD soundtrack delivers what you would hope for; a dynamic and strong presentation where the loud moments make for solid contrast against the eerier and quieter ones. The subwoofer delivers the bass nicely on the music and bigger scenes. The surrounds are used a bit more sparingly than I would prefer for horror; I like a little ambience added when I’m getting spooked. But overall, a solid and dependable job.
This Blu-ray contains both the theatrical and unrated cuts, and each has its own commentary. For the theatrical, you can listen to director Karyn Kusama and Diablo Cody together; for the extended cut, the director speaks alone.
There is a 15-minute making-of featurette, several deleted scenes, a collection of video diaries shot by the cast and crew members, a rather poor gag reel, and two bits featuring Megan Fox. One is a hilarious public service announcement. The other is a short montage of her hottest moments in the movie…not sure what the purpose of it was, but you won’t hear any complaints from me.
Rounding out are some trailers and a bonus digital copy disc.
Jennifer’s Body is a horror movie that would have been a truly great and entertaining film had it NOT been a horror movie. It crackles and sparkles with Diablo Cody’s patented humor and intelligence before the scares begin and the whole project just collapses into absurdity.