Cinema has long been the province of men on the creative side of things. Though much is made of Katherine Bigelow this year, she and directors like Karyn Kusama are a rarity, and still represent only a small handful of the filmmakers working today. Such may make it seem like a film written by a woman and directed by a woman might be handled with kid gloves. But no, because the writer was Diablo Cody, and the star was Megan Fox, their effort Jennifer’s Body was not particularly well received, and died at the box office. But this story of two best friends (Fox, Amanda Seyfried) who grow to hate each other once Fox’s Jennifer becomes a succubus will eventually find an audience, because it’s interesting, even if it’s not entirely successful. My review of Jennifer’s Body on Blu-ray after the jump.
Seyfried plays Needy, the survivor/narrator who tells of her friendship with Jennifer. The two grew up together and are BFF’s, but their power relationship is well defined. Jennifer is the attractive one, and even though Needy has a steady boyfriend in Chip (Johnny Simmons), Needy is at Jennifer’s beck and call as the less attractive of the two. Trouble starts when Jennifer wants to see the new band Low Shoulder, with the motivation being that the group has an attractive leading man (Adam Brody). The club they’re in burns down, Needy and Jennifer escape, and Jennifer then goes off with the band in what looks like a rape van. Jennifer shows up later that night at Needy’s house covered in blood and vomiting bile. Then, the next day at school, she looks better than ever. It turns out she’s become some sort of demon, and feeds on men to stay healthy. Eventually it all comes down to a prom night where Jennifer targets Needy’s boyfriend.
I’m of two minds about the film. On the one hand this is a film made by women, starring women. And what the film gets right is the cattiness between women. It successfully addresses their sexual relationship, and the competition between them. It also gets at the power women have sexually, how they can play roles to get what they want, and the politics of that specifically in high school. And it gives Megan Fox her best on screen role, it straddles the line – while still making her a monster – of making her a little empathetic while also being queen bitch. The film is fascinating in that regard.
On the other hand, the film’s influences are on the surface. The band whose song becomes a part of the mourning, the jock kid who gets it, and the ramping up structure to the big dance is very much familiar to those who’ve seen Heathers, as is the politics of girl relationships. In some ways the film just puts a supernatural spin on those proceedings without adding that much, and the film doesn’t seem a post-modern re-evaluation of those tropes. Mostly it just seems to borrow from it, almost shamelessly. That doesn’t mean there can only be one film on the subject matter, but there are a lot of corollaries, and ultimately Heathers is a more sympathetic presentation of the power struggles between women. Cinema has an interesting relationship with Diablo Cody right now, and it will be interesting to see how this film is viewed in a couple of years. I can’t fully recommend the film, but it’s definitely an interesting film.
Twentieth Century Fox’s Blu-ray presents the film in widescreen (1.78:1) and in DTS 5.1 HD with a digital copy included, along with the theatrical cut (102 min.) and an unrated cut (107 min.) the theatrical cut comes with a commentary by Karyn Kusama and Diablo Cody, while the extended cut comes with a solo Kusama commentary. Also included are six deleted scenes (14 min.), a gag reel (5 min.), making of “Jennifer’s Body: The Dead Pool” (14 min.) with comments from Kusama, Body and much of the crew (including Greg Nicotero), four video diaries (13 min.) from Fox and Simmons, Seyfried, Cody and producer Dan Dubiecki. “Megan Fox is Hot” (1 min.) is footage of Fox looking good from the film, Megan Fox “Peer Pressure” PSA (1 min.) is a jokey promo; “Life After Film School with Diablo Cody” (26 min.) has the writer talking to three students with the writer, and bonus trailers are also included.