This film, Jennifer’s Body has a lot of expectations riding on it. Especially for its writer, Diablo Cody, and star Megan Fox. For Cody, this film marks her first script since winning a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for 2007’s Juno. With Jennifer’s Body, she has to prove to everyone that she is not a one-hit wonder. Star Megan Fox is out to prove that she can carry a film, while also proving that her acting abilities extend beyond wearing tight clothes and talking to robots, as she did in the two Transformers films. Does either woman prove themselves worthy of their almost overnight success? For me, the answer would have to be no.
The plot for this high school-meets-horror film surrounds the title character Jennifer (Megan Fox) and her best friend Anita “Needy” Lesnicky (Amanda Seyfried). These two characters have been friends since they were young girls, even though they are polar opposites, Needy is the nerdy one and Jennifer is the hottest, most popular girl in the entire town. The reason behind their enduring friendship, we are told through Needy’s voice over, is “sandbox love never dies.”
The events of the film are put in motion when one night Jennifer decides to drag Needy away from her boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons), and go to their town’s only bar, to see her favorite band, “Low Shoulder.” As Jennifer tries to attract the attention of the band’s lead singer, Nikolai Wolf (Adam Brody), the bar catches on fire, and after Jennifer and Needy escape to the parking lot, the band convinces Jennifer to get in their van. Needy is left wandering what has happened to her BFF until Jennifer shows up hours later at Needy’s house, covered in blood. Jennifer says nothing and only vomits up an inky, black liquid before leaving.
The next day at school, Jennifer is seemingly fine and mentions nothing of the previous night’s events. Something however, is terribly wrong with her, as she was the victim of a botched satanic sacrifice by her favorite band (they mistook her for a virgin) and becomes possessed by a demon. This is a demon that requires human flesh to survive and soon the town’s teenage male population begins to disappear. It’s up to Needy to stop Jennifer before she consumes the entire male population of Devil’s Kettle, Minnesota.
The film’s dialogue is signature Diablo Cody, everyone speaks in a hyper-witty, sarcastic tone that anyone who saw Juno will know as soon as they hear it. The problem with Jennifer’s Body, unlike Juno, is that the dialogue that was fresh and fun then - sounds forced here. It seems Cody is trying too hard to make the film funny and quirky, and it doesn’t work. The dialogue isn’t done any favors by Megan Fox who, while delivering some decent lines, doesn’t add any emotion behind her delivery. I think Fox, who has complained so much to the press about not being able to show her true talent, was proven wrong. I’m now certain we have already seen her range as an actress with the Transformers series.
It also didn’t help Fox look any more capable by putting her opposite Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!). Seyfried proves that she is miles above Megan Fox in the acting department by putting in the film’s only genuine performance as the heroine of the movie. The rest of the cast is decent with J.K. Simmons’ comedic talents going to waste in such a small part. The only other notable performance besides Seyfried, is Adam Brody’s comedic cameo as the band’s lead singer.
The films biggest offense however, is its tone. It’s never clear what the film is trying to be. It has elements of horror, but is neither scary nor gory enough to be considered a horror film. It isn’t a comedy, as it doesn’t feature enough laughs to be in that genre. Lastly, it can’t be considered a teen sex comedy either, as contrary to what the film’s publicity and its premise would have you believe, the film features no nudity. The sexual elements are rather PG-13 (sorry, Fox fans).
In the end, the film’s muddled tone really brings the whole thing down. It can’t decide what it wants to be, and it fails for this reason. If “Body” falters at the box office – I’m sure Megan Fox will continue to get roles with her looks alone and Cody will continue to write scripts – I just hope next time she brings something new to offer and doesn’t try to replicate her Juno dialogue again. Jennifer’s Body is not a true disaster, but it lacks any real soul.