Review

Jennifer's Body Review

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Sep 17, 2009 | 3:38pm EDT

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Jennifer Check and Anita "Needy" Lesnicky are lifelong best friends and high school students in tiny Devil's Kettle Minnesota. Needy is the practical bookish counterpart to small-town sexpot cheerleader Jennifer who controls most everyone around her — Needy included — with knowing relish using her hypnotic good looks. After Jennifer and Needy escape a grisly fire at the local dive bar Jennifer is whisked away in a creeper van by the band that was playing there despite Needy's pleas not to. In a "sell your soul for rock and roll"-style move the fame-hungry indie rockers Low Shoulder  kill Jennifer in an occult virgin sacrifice ceremony which goes awry because Jennifer isn't one. After being left for dead  Jennifer shows up at Needy's house covered in blood  spewing black bile and grinning wickedly. 

The next day amidst the fire tragedy aftermath  Devil's Kettle's star football player is found disemboweled and half-eaten in the woods adjacent to the school. Jennifer of course  did it  and after the vixen kills a sweet emo boy she confesses to Needy (after a too-brief girl-on-girl makeout session complete with heavy tongue close-ups) that the botched sacrifice turned her into a demon and that she becomes happier and more beautiful — and thus deadlier — after she feasts on the blood of horny high school boys. Needy does some research in the occult section of the high school library and discovers her best friend is indeed a pawn of the devil. Needy warns her boyfriend Chip to watch out for Jennifer and consequently finds herself covered in bile with Chip dead in her arms at the prom because he doesn't. Then she seeks revenge.

WHO'S IN IT?

The ever enjoyable Amanda Seyfried takes the lead as plain jane Needy and Johnny Simmons is her sweet doting boyfriend Chip. Adam Brody doing a spot-on Brandon Flowers impression  is the killer front man of Low Shoulder. Amy Sedaris makes a too-brief cameo as Needy's mom and Juno's dad J.K. Simmons is a high school teacher with an unexplained hook for a hand. Megan Fox is in it too.

WHAT'S GOOD?

Diablo Cody's script is smart funny and infinitely more interesting than the typical teen slasher swill. The movie revels in its gory moments without being gratuitous and employs a healthy amount of sex without coming off like it's pandering to horny teens. Rather  Jennifer's Body is the perfect template for the incomparably hot Megan Fox to use her looks as a plot-forwarding mechanism. This is a professionally signficant departure from her eye candy turns in the Transformers movies and lets Fox prove that she can actually act. There's no one else in Hollywood right now better suited to this role. Fox's performance is unhinged and charming and she makes good use of all the Diablo Cody-isms ("You need a mani bad. You should find a Chinese chick to buff your situation.")  that devil-may-care Jennifer gets to utter. The love/hate best friend relationship is interesting and there's a load of good-girl-gone-wrong catharsis in Seyfried's revenge-fueled rampage. Cody and director Karyn Kusama are adept in skillfully  if a bit condescendingly creating a convincing depiction of a small Midwestern town which serves as the perfect ultra-real backdrop for the story.

WHAT'S BAD?

Cody's unique style adds the perfect quirk factor to what could otherwise be run-of-the-mill cinematic garbage.The Cody-isms however  sometimes come off as cloying when they aren't being uttered by Fox. Also hopeful Fox worshippers might be disappointed that the sexually radiant actress despite her character's penchant for using sex to lure her victims doesn't actually bare anything that necessitates the film's R-rating.  

PARTING SHOT

With its surprising plot twists a snarky bff vs. bff subplot and Cody's flair for linguistics  Jennifer's Body is a smart horror flick for anyone who enjoys jolly gore or Megan Fox in a mini-skirt.  

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