There’s a lot of baggage tied to Jennifer’s Body, but once past the initial apprehension of it being Diablo Cody’s follow up to Juno and media-saturated Megan Fox’s first major performance, it’s easier to take it for what it is: a clever little tongue-in-cheek horror comedy.
High school cheerleader hottie Jennifer starts to literally embody her man-eating demeanour after leaving the scene of a bar fire, with a suspicious indie rock band playing when the blaze hit. She turns up later at her best friend Needy’s house, covered in blood, chewing chicken carcasses and puking up prickly black goo. From then on, it’s time for Jennifer’s body count.
What the marketing campaign doesn’t make explicit is the fact that this is Amanda Seyfried’s movie even more than it is Fox’s. Not that Fox’s screen time isn’t ample, or her impact vital, but Seyfried’s character, Needy, is undoubtedly the lead. The chemistry between, and relationship of, Jennifer and Needy is the blood animating the story through the pumping organs of Diablo Cody’s signature dialogue. Said dialogue feels a bit awkward and stilted when the high school lingo starts to drop but finds its footing as the film’s tone solidifies.
Issues of tone apply just as strongly, if not more so, to the film’s soundtrack, which is nauseating in its lameness until its purpose is revealed, at which point it becomes a hilarious and integral plot point. Seyfried is well cast against Fox as the shrinking violet who can easily match Jennifer in beauty but allows herself to be overshadowed by attitude. She has a richer emotional character arc to walk and does so with skill. But Fox is also spot on as a vicious bitch strutting her powers, both demonic and feminine, to mask her wounded interior.
It’s not the juggernaut crowd-pleaser Juno was but that’s nowhere near the aim of this successfully saucy satirical horror comedy.