Streaming on HBO
Metadata: R | 2009 | 1h 51m
Genre: Cult, Horror, Dark Comedy
Why I watched: The day that this popped up on HBO's list of recently added, I did three things: (1) squealed; (2) texted my older sister and Grace, to alert them to The Good News; (3) pressed play; and (4) rewatched it again later that night with my partner because it. is. that. good. I'd watched it back in 2009, when the hell of high school and girlhood were more freshly stamped into my brain. Revisiting it almost a decade later was a, dare I say, more enjoyable experience!
You might also like: Screenplay writer Diablo Cody is the mind behind Jennifer's Body, and her writing is a real gift. While her first, beloved film Juno is pay-to-play right now, Cody's Young Adult is available on Amazon Prime. Staring Charlize Theron, the film follows a (very unlikeable) children's book ghost author as she returns to her hometown to win back her high school sweetheart—who is married and has a child. Full of the dark comedy that Cody is known for, the movie is worth a watch!
I am here to tell you that Jennifer's Body is the most criminally underrated film of its generation. Set against your usual high school backdrop of any good teen movie, the film starts off with its narrator—like many female horror protagonists—stuck in a mental institution. Needy (Amanda Seyfried) tells us about her picture-perfect life, boyfriend, and BFF, Jennifer (Megan Fox). Everything was good and well until an indie rock band Low Shoulder (helmed by Adam Brody of The OC!) comes into town, casts a satanic curse, and the devil takes over, well, Jennifer's body. It sounds terrible, I know—but this movie is so, so good!
The focus of the film is, as its title states, a teenage girl's body: Which brings us to Megan Fox and the fact that this is a horror film. In 2009, no other actress was more fetishized purely based on appearance and sex than Fox. And then and now, no other genre is more delighted than horror to slash/burn/institutionalize girls for the sake of its audience's pleasure. Jennifer's Body seeks some amount of redemption for the status quo. Yes, we watch Jennifer swim languidly across the lake without a stitch of clothes on—the camera being just as gaze-y as in any supernatural scream fest—but we also see her devour the teenage boys who leer at her. And that's a little more than somewhat satisfying.
Full of one liners and introspection about coming of age as a young girl in America, Jennifer's Body was loathed at its time of release by basically any man that reviewed it, because genre film is a boys club and the powers that be didn't like a female written and directed film encroaching on their territory. Really: The critical reviews were split almost entirely by gender. I personally think that the script is the film's greatest super power, and Megan Fox's delivery of Cody's lines is just as brilliant. When a very needy Needy chastises, "You're killing people!" Jennifer rolls here eyes. "No, I'm killing boys." The two are perfect counterparts, with Seyfried at her mousiest and Fox at her, well, foxiest—it's a study in complicated friendships, made even more complicated by a psychic connection.
This movie was ahead of its time in a tragic way, and the studio did a crap job of marketing it to the right audience. (The theatrical poster is stupid, which is why above I included fan art instead.) Unsurprisingly, the teenage boys who went to see a sexy Megan Fox movie were probably disappointed. But if this movie came out today, I have no doubt that people would be lining up to see it. In short: Add this to your queue ASAP!
Happy streaming! Liz