Jennifer’s Body
dir Karyn Kusama
scr Diablo Cody
prd Daniel Dubiecki, Mason Novick, Jason Reitman
with Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, JK Simmons, Amy Sedaris, Cynthia Stevenson, Kyle Gallner, Juan Riedinger, Chris Pratt, Josh Emerson, Aman Johal
release US 18.Sep.09, UK 6.Nov.09
09/Fox 1h42
Jennifer's Body
Best friends forever: Seyfried and Fox

simmons brody simmons
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Jennifer's Body A snappy script and a lively approach to the genre make this a gleefully grisly teen horror movie thoroughly entertaining. And it also features terrific performances that break stereotypes and pull us into the carnage.

Teens Needy and Jennifer (Seyfried and Fox) have been best pals since childhood, but their friendship has now shifted: Needy likes everyone and has a nice-guy boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons), while Jennifer is the school's ice-queen babe. One night their favourite band Low Shoulder is performing at a local bar, and Jennifer has her eye on the singer (Brody). But he decides to sacrifice her to gain musical success. The problem is that she's definitely not a virgin, and her voracious hunger for boys takes a nasty turn.

After the terrific but over-written JUNO, it's good to see Cody paying more attention to characterisation, creating vivid personalities that the cast really sink their teeth into. This is really Seyfried's movie, and she adds some terrific subtext as the engaging Jan Brady-type struggling to get along with everyone as events turn seriously nasty. Fox, meanwhile, is clearly having a great time vamping it up as the uber-hot and fiercely strong-willed Jennifer.

The film is peppered with witty echoes of vampire and zombie movies. The story plays out with twists that are both scary and funny. And the approach to gender and sexuality is strikingly more realistic than what we usually see in studio films, from same-sex experimentation to the loss of virginity. Even the standard teen roles are upended, with intriguing variations on the jocks, brains and goths. There's of course a sassy little sister. And a Carrie-echoing prom.

If there's any complaint, it's the same one that came with Juno: the script is simply too knowing and deliberately rude to be anything but a breezy bit of entertainment. Director Kusama keeps things visually snappy, with inventive touches both in the big explosive moments and in the tender dramatic scenes. And while it's so ridiculous that we start to wonder if it's all a fantasy in someone's imagination, it's great fun to watch a movie about a mean girl who's actually evil, not high school evil.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality, drugs 30.Sep.09

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall