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Jennifer's Body (2009)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/29/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/2/2009
In a recent year-end poll at Moviefone.com, readers voted Megan Fox the Worst Actress of the Year, but also the Sexiest Actress of the Year, which just goes to show that people don't know what they want. Or, maybe they do. This implies that being a good actress and being sexy are mutually exclusive, and clearly they think that Fox has one but not the other. This also implies that people (and by people, I'm pointing at adolescent boys) will pay to see her in a movie, despite the fact that they don't like her acting. Wow, this is really confusing. So, what can we expect from the movie, Jennifer's Body, where Fox is expected to act sexy? Can she pull it off?
Jennifer's Body takes place in the small town of Devil's Kettle. Anita "Needy" (Amanda Seyfried) and Jennifer (Megan Fox) are high-school students who have been lifelong friends. Two be friends, the two are total opposites: Jennifer is a cheerleader who is known for her good looks and her wildside; Needy is meek and geeky, and lives in Jennifer's shadow. Despite this, Needy does have a boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons). Jennifer and Needy go to a local bar to see the band Low Shoulder. During the show, a fire breaks out and Jennifer disappears. Later that night, Jennifer appears at Needy's house, disoriented and bloody. The next day, Jennifer acts as if everything is fine. However, she's even more shallow than ever, showing no feelings for the fire victims. Then, local boys begin disappearing. Needy becomes convinced that something has happened to Jennifer and that she is now evil. The truth will endanger Needy and Chip, and challenge a friendship which has existed for years.
Forming an opinion about a movie typically isn't very hard for me (especially since that opinion is usually, "Hated it!"). But, I'm having a hard time with Jennifer's Body. To be honest, I went into the movie not knowing what to expect. The movie had a ton of hype and then only brought in $16 million. It has a 44% rating on Rottentomatoes and it's appeared on several "Worst of 2009" lists. And then, there were two personal issues with which to contend: I don't like Megan Fox or Diablo Cody, who wrote the film. Fox has simply never done anything to impress me, be that in a movie or in an interview, and I think thatJuno succeeded in spite of Cody's "hip-speak" dialogue which garnered so much attention. (Much credit must go to Jason Reitman for that film.)
However, only 1/4 of those elements would pose a problem for Jennifer's Body and another one would pop up. While I won't go as far as to say that Fox's acting is good in this movie, she's playing a bitchy, conceited high-school girl, so she's very believable in the role. Jennifer is condescending and has a sense of superiority and Fox is able to deliver this just fine. She does seem to struggle with the more emotional moments, but in everything else, I bought it. As for Cody's script, it definitely contains some good ideas. I purposely avoided including a major plot point in my above synopsis, as not knowing it helps to improve the film. The idea of a high school queen bee having supernatural powers turns the tables on the Carrie archetype and makes things interesting. The problem here is with the dialogue. In short, no one talks like that...anywhere. Someone should have gone through the script and crossed out about half of Cody's pop-culture references and crude nicknames. This would have helped the film immensely.
The film's biggest weaknesses are its pacing and tone. Director Karyn Kusama, who previously made Aeon Flux (Yes, they let that person make another movie), lets things get too slow in the film's mid-section. Scenes seem to crawl by with nothing happening. It's here that the movie really seems to lose focus on what it wants to be. Is it a horror film? Sort of, as it deals with supernatural monsters, but not really. Is it a comedy? I think that it wants to be a comedy, but it's not particularly funny. Is it a feminist piece? I can see some labeling it as such, as it deals with a female predator who goes after males, but hasn't this been done many times before? In the end, Jennifer's Body isn't a total disaster, but it's not satisfying either. It never becomes a fully-formed movie, despite some ambitious components. And for all of you boys out there, Megan Fox is never nude, not even in the unrated version.
Jennifer's Body attempts to bring back leg warmers on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 27 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain. The colors look fantastic, most notably blues and reds. The image is never overly dark or bright. The picture shows an amazing amount of detail and in close-up shots, we can see every pore on the actor's faces. A good amount of depth is also delivered here. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are quite good here, most notably in the fire scene. They are nicely detailed and show good separation. The surround sound effects are similarly well-handled, with music cues and sound effects coming from the rear at appropriate times. The subwoofer effects add a jolt to the scare sequences. The in-film music sounds very good, and I have to say that it's been a while since I've actually liked the music in a movie.
The Jennifer's Body Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Karyn Kusama and Writer Diablo Cody (Theatrical Version Only). This is followed by a second COMMENTARY with Kusama by herself (Extended Version Only). The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about 14 minutes. These are mainly extended versions of scenes or moments from the movie. There is a little more information here, but no new characters or subplots. There is a five-minute GAG REEL. "Jennifer's Body: The Dead Pool" (14 minutes) gives an overall look at the film, but mainly examines how the finale was created and shot. "Video Diaries" (13 minutes) allows us to watch Megan Fox, Johnny Simmons, Amanda Seyfriend, Diablo Cody and Dan Dubiecki on set as they video themsevles at work. "Megan Fox is Hot" (1 minute) is simply a reel of shots of Fox. The 13-year old boys thank you for that. "Megan Fox 'Peer Pressure' PSA" (40 seconds) is not an actual, serious PSA. (But, it's not as good as the Fight Club PSAs.) "Fox Movie Channel Presents Life After Film School with Writer Diablo Cody" (26 minutes) is an extended interview with the writer. I didn't know that stripping was film school.
Review Copyright 2010 by Mike Long