Monday, February 15, 2010

This Is the Girl: Jennifer's Body

I'm sure you've heard.

For months and months, there was hype about Jennifer's Body, Diablo Cody's female-driven follow-up to Juno.  And then . . . there was anti-hype.  Terrible reviews.  Abysmal box office.  So much of both that I who had really been looking forward to it (as a fan of both Cody and cheesy horror films) decided not to see it in the theatre.  In fact, the reason I saw it at all is because my friend Bob was visiting from L.A. and bought the DVD for cheap.

I fully expected to MST3K Jennifer's Body into ironic oblivion.

But you know what?  I kinda liked it.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the basic plot: after an inflammatory night out, Needy Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) finds that her beautiful, popular BFF Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) is acting bloodthirsty--and not in the bitchy teenage girl way.  Cue blood, boobie shots, and Megan Fox saying things like "I go both ways" so fourteen-year-old boys everywhere can get hard-ons.

And yes, there's much ridiculosity to be witnessed in Jennifer's Body.  Much of which originates with Megan Fox.  After careful analysis (and by analysis I mean me and Bob going back and forth going, "woooow, she's terrible"), I have arrived at the following conclusion: I'm not sure what the casting directors were going for (besides, well, the aforementioned fourteen-year-old boy hard-ons).  I mean, for most of the movie, Jennifer is technically lifeless, so Fox's wooden performance might have been--a good decision?  On the other hand, I do wonder what a better actress would have done with the role.  Would it have been jacked-up nasty, or just overdone?

Anyhoo, forget the Fox.  Here's who I liked best in Jennifer's Body:

Amanda Friggin' Seyfried, yo.  As far as I'm concerned, this girl can do no wrong.  I know she first really broke out on the scene as dimwit self-fondler/weathergirl Karen in Mean Girls, which no doubt is a fantastic film in its own right.  However, Seyfried had my heart after her season the title character's murdered best friend on Veronica Mars.  Lilly Kane may have only appeared in flashbacks, but she packed quite the punch: rich, fun-loving, loyal and a little bit bitchy.  In other words, exactly what anyone wants in a high school best friend.  (And OMG, gorgeous.  I wish she hadn't gone through the requisite Hollywood weight loss--those curves were bangin'.)

Seyfried just keeps getting awesomer: sure, Mamma Mia! was glittery garbage, but she has a lovely voice and her Sophie had a winningly winsome presence.  And yes, I truly liked Dear John.  (Shut up.  Channing Tatum is fiiiiine and I may or may not have enjoyed the book.)  It's funny: while Seyfried was great in Mean Girls, she didn't really stand out to me then (hell, Lindsay Lohan was still The One to Watch, and Rachel McAdams was coming into her own star power).  I couldn't be happier that her career has proven me wrong.

Anyway, Seyfried's character Needy is a badass.  Don't let the name (short for Anita) fool you.  She tries to be a good friend until Jennifer's just too damn possessed for it to be possible.  She has a sweet boyfriend (and a sex drive!), but isn't defined by him.  And especially at the beginning and end, girl kicks some serious butt.  I swear, after the movie I wanted to go around screaming "I recommend you shut the fuck up!" and kicking, but my roommate expressed a desire to, you know, not have the police called on us.  Believe me, even when Megan Fox/Jennifer gets annoying, Jennifer's Body is worth watching for Needy.

Did I mention that she wears glasses?  I love me some fierce bespectacled females.  Even if there are demons involved.

Bob's favorite part: the line "you give me such a wettie."  While for me this brings up images of Wet Ones (those baby butt-wipes), Bob pointed out that "there's not really a female equivalent for the term 'woody.'"  Unlike in Juno, where Cody's twee pop culture-y phrases are backed up by real substance, Jennifer's Body's dialogue reeks of superficiality.  However, some of  it works: not just the "wettie" line, but how Needy and Jennifer refer to each other as "Monistat" and "Vagisil."  I distinctly remember in high school when my friends and I came up with stupidly "dirty" nicknames for one another (Valerie Vagina in the house, yo!).  Basically, yes, Cody's writing borders on over-the-top, but there are still some gems here.  Don't give up on her yet.

So I know it got a lot of hate critically and at the box office, some of which was definitely deserved.  But as inconsistent as it is, Jennifer's Body is worth the rental.  If nothing else, we're supporting the scribe behind the Sweet Valley High revamp.  And what could be awesomer than that?

P.S.  Guess who's going to be writing for TVGasm?  Thanks to all who voted!  And don't worry, the bloggy fun will continue here!


  1. I wasn't a super huge fan of the overall movie but I feel you on the Amanda Seyfried love. She's AWESOME. And one of the only characters I don't hate on Big Love--have you seen that, btw? She's very good as the oldest daughter of polygamist Bill Henrickson. Wonderful actress all around.

    I hate the word "wettie." I'm not sure why. Maybe for the same reason lots of people hate "Moist" or "panties." It makes me think of like...a wet willy. Someone wetting their finger and sticking, well, let's just say NOT my ear. It skeeves me to no end!

    Ahem. Great post!

  2. Sadako--you're like the third person this week who's recommended Big Love to me! I really like most of the actors on it, and I find the whole polygamy thing fascinating. I don't get HBO, but I'll try to see if I can find episodes online or something.

    I agree about "wettie." I like the idea behind it: hey, females get excited too, but there's not a specific noun for it. I just wish Cody had come up with something better. Something that doesn't evoke images of baby buttwipes and moist panties, ya know?

  3. Yeah...I like the idea of a girl being aroused in the same way a guy is. We're not just objects who passively get ogled--we can do some of the ogling ourselves. I've heard "clit-on." I like it better than wettie...and yeah, I'm starting to think of wet wipes, too now!

    I'd recommend seeing some of the older eps first if you haven't. I know that the first few seasons are avail on DVD now, so I'd check those out if you can. If you like Veronica Mars (I haven't seen it but one of my best friends has and loves both Big Love and Veronica Mars), apparently a LOT of the actors from VM have appeared on Big Love.

  4. LOVE Amanda Seyfried. She's the best thing about "Big Love." (Awesome show, I just could do without the mysoginistic bent.) I now will add "JB" to my Queue.

  5. Dear Valerie Vagina
    I'm gonna have to third you watch Big Love. I don't get HBO, so I'm one season behind, but still enjoying it thanks to Netflix.

    Nipply Nikki
    (It was a nickname steeped in irony)

  6. Sadako: I hear "ladyboner" a lot, but for me that's more funny than anything else. I like "clit-on," though.

    EB: The fact that polygamists don't comprehend the inherent misogyny of what they do (or else they do understand and don't care) is precisely what I find so fascinating.

    Nipply Nikki: Pipe down or I'll sic my pals Patsy Penis and Katie C*nt on you. (What can I say, years and years of Catholic school repression makes dirty nicknames doubly hilarious!)

  7. This was a movie that I really wanted to like - I love Diablo Cody, and the concept is pretty intriguing. But ultimately, I found it to be bizarre and disjointed. It couldn't decide what it wanted to be.

    It tried to be scary, but it wasn't scary. It tried to be funny, but it wasn't funny. It was supposedly a feminist film, but the kissing scene and "I go both ways" parts felt contrived and like you said, there to appeal to 14-year-old boys.

    Generally, though, I'm not a huge fan of dark comedy like this. I just found the whole effect to be strange, but maybe I just didn't "get it." But it's definitely a movie that got people talking, and I'm sure that's what Diablo Cody wanted!

  8. An interesting thing about the two parts you mentioned, Meg: I have read that neither were part of Diablo Cody's original script. Which makes me like her a little more AND hate the studio a lot more.

    I definitely did not think it was a perfect film. It had a lot of problems. What might have been different is our viewing experiences--I know you went fairly early on, whereas I didn't see it until I'd heard a lot of awful things about it. Like I said, I almost didn't see it at all. My expectations were admittedly pretty low.

    In truth, I don't think it would have been greenlighted were it not for Cody's name/Oscar win. At most, it would have gone direct to DVD. But I enjoyed it for what it was: a fun, silly horror movie with Amanda Seyfried kickin' ass. Also, I've always loved Hole's "Violet" and was so happy they used it at the end.

  9. Speaking of Big Love, if you do watch it, you should definitely do a review on your site. I'd love to see your take on it!

  10. Wow, "wettie" sounds so disgusting and baby-butt-wipe-ish to me, too. I think "boner" is better, even if one is a lady.

    Yeah, I only know that blonde from Big Love...I've seen several episodes, since Mr. Bryn is kind of a fan of the show.

    I'm afraid I'm kind of allergic to Diablo Cody, based on Juno. I know I'm in the minority there!

    Great review as always!

  11. Thanks, Bryn! You're definitely not alone in your feelings about El Diablo--I know many people who feel the same way. I think she's like David Mamet: has a certain way of playing with language that you either really take to or you really don't.

    The only problem I have is when some hipster know-it-all hates on her just because it's the "cool" thing to do. It's sort of like when people are really vocally against Sex and the City...without ever having seen an episode. Neither of which scenarios applies to you. :)

  12. What a girl she's a little butterfly, she's like the most beautiful little thing I've seen ever, not also because she's beautiful but also she's so talented.m10m