From The Published Archives: Jennifer’s Body

What’s going on with Megan Fox?  Late last decade, she rose to fame playing Shia LeBeouf’s unlikely love interest in the first two Transformers movies.  Then, after badmouthing the director of those films, Michael Bay (at one point, she compared him to Hitler), she was not hired for Dark Of The Moon, the third entry in the series.  At the same time, she developed a controversial reputation as an outspoken if not always honest subject in countless interviews.

After all of her post-Transformers projects tanked critically and commercially she disappeared for a bit to get married and have a baby.  Now she’s back taking small roles in more successful films like The Dictator and This Is 40.  At the moment things seem to be going a bit better for her.

At any event, after reading this I wonder if whatever mystique she still had going for herself is completely gone now.  Speaking in tongues while in church?  Believing in the end times?  Not wanting to be famous anymore?  I hope she’s joking.

Although I’ve only seen a few of her films (none of which I liked) there is something there that no director or writer has been able to fully tap into yet, a detached iciness somewhat reminiscent of Nico, the late German model/singer/actress best known for her work on the first Velvet Underground album.  Because of her extremely unlikeable personality one wonders why Fox doesn’t focus exclusively on villain roles.  If people are going to hate her let them hate her for generating real heat on-screen rather than making asinine comments in interviews.

The closest she’s come to achieving that very objective was her work in Jennifer’s Body.  Unlike the Transformers films she had a more substantial role to play.  Unfortunately, despite her natural coldness coming through in every scene she appears in, the movie itself didn’t really work.  As you’re about to discover through this previously published review the writing really hurt the quality of this confused movie.  Fox was left floundering despite her villainous conviction.

This review is most unusual in that it wasn’t written immediately after it was screened.  In fact, I didn’t write it until two to three weeks later.  For some reason, the film lingered in my mind longer than I expected it to.  I guess you could say it was memorably bad.  Because I didn’t feel I needed to write a superlong assessment for this space I knocked out a much shorter one for, a local arts website I was volunteering for at the time, instead.

The version you’re about to read has been revised slightly from the one published on June 21, 2010 which was accompanied by the film’s poster which featured Fox in a schoolgirl’s outfit on a teacher’s desk in a classroom.  Larissa Cardey, who edited the review before briefly becoming the official editor of MonkeyBiz, annoyingly dropped several, bracketed asides most likely to make the writing flow more smoothly.  All but one have been restored here.  (Near the end of the original submission I mentioned the nice chemistry that Amanda Seyfried and Johnny Simmons shared on screen in the middle of the last sentence of the third-to-last paragraph.  It was wisely dropped because it really made that line unnecessarily clunky.  Ultimately, I just couldn’t find any room for it in this updated version.)

Also dropped was a famous reference to the Beatles near the end.  When the band was feeling down during their early days of struggle John Lennon would cheer them up by asking them where they were going.  Their response:  “to the toppermost of the poppermost, Johnny!”  That phrase “toppermost of the poppermost” was removed because Larissa thought no one would get it.  I actually preferred her more general “ascend to rock stardom” substitution which remains here.

Although I was generally happy with the critique that went up on MonkeyBiz this restored version, which contains almost all of my original thoughts, is my preference.  I hope you enjoy it.

Jennifer’s Body: A Movie Review

Posted on June 21 2010 under Arts & Entertainment
By Dennis Earl

“Hell is a teenage girl,” begins Needy, the narrator of the confused Jennifer’s Body.

Played by the beautiful Amanda Seyfried, she’s a troubled high school student stuck in a mental institution aching for freedom while at the same time recapping the circumstances that led her there.

How different her life would be if she had never met Jennifer (Megan Fox), an icy cold cheerleader who has been her best friend since their days playing in the sandbox.  They’re so close a fellow student is convinced Needy has the hots for her.  (Well, there is that sexy kiss they share later on.)

Considering the lack of warmth Jennifer exhibits on a routine basis, it’s hard to fathom why a sweetheart like the bespectacled Needy (what a terrible name for a nice girl) would be so loyal to her after many years of tolerating her bad behaviour.  It becomes even less convincing when we meet her sweet, funny boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons) who is deeply concerned about Jennifer’s hold on her.

One night, Jennifer drags her to a bar to see an up-and-coming emo band called Low Shoulder, whom she discovered on MySpace. During their catchy opening number, a faulty amplifier cord catches fire setting the whole tavern ablaze (shades of the infamous Great White club fire of 2003).  Safely outside, Needy watches helplessly as the band’s mascaraed lead singer (Adam Brody) convinces a dazed Jennifer to get into the band’s van.

Later that night, a hungry Jennifer unexpectedly visits Needy’s kitchen in search of food.  But something’s very wrong with her.

Soon a number of high school guys are found cannibalized.  Meanwhile, Jennifer becomes even colder and starts entertaining offers from guys she previously dismissed as potential mates.  A connection?  It doesn’t take a lab technician to figure it out.

Jennifer’s Body (named after a bristling Hole song from Live Through This) suffers tremendously from an identity crisis.  It can’t decide if it’s a feminist horror film with a sense of humour or a pitch-black satire about destructive female friendships with thriller elements.  In the end, despite a few laughs here and there it’s neither consistently amusing nor particularly frightening.

Megan Fox is believable when she conveys distance and callousness, less so when she’s given throwaway one-liners.  In fact, I don’t remember laughing at a single thing she says.  (That being said, she certainly didn’t deserve that Razzie.)

It’s not entirely her fault, though.  Diablo Cody’s screenplay is loaded with unfunny quips spread generously around to her castmates, some of which went right over my head.  Little of the writing lives up to the promise of its brilliant opening line.

Amanda Seyfried fares much better as Needy, even though it’s not at all believable she would want anything to do with Jennifer in the first place.  How is it possible she can be in a healthy relationship with Chip but is easily manipulated by Jennifer who doesn’t appear to have any other female friends?

As for Low Shoulder, aren’t there far easier ways to ascend to rock stardom without the use of black magic?  Wouldn’t the town’s residents vilify the band for their recklessness regarding the tavern fire rather than hail them as heroes?

No wonder Megan Fox neglected to mention this disappointment on Saturday Night Live.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, February 8, 2013
4:32 p.m.

Published in: on February 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. […] Basterds appeared alongside previously published assessments of Paranormal Activity, Assassins, Jennifer’s Body and The Unborn.  All but one of those last four originally seen on […]

  2. […] Unborn and Morrissey’s Years Of Refusal would follow two months later, as would a fifth, Jennifer’s Body.)  By the way, this Dirty Penny is not to be confused with this Dirty […]

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