Diablo Cody is one of the most interesting screenwriters working today. She burst onto the scene with a memoir about her brief career working as a stripper before winning an Oscar for her work on Juno, one of the finest films released in a great year for cinema, 2007.
Cody’s most recent effort, Tully, reunites her with star Charlize Theron and director Jason Reitman, with whom she made the majestic Young Adult (a previous subject of this column) and demonstrates a newfound maturity.
But the writer’s sophomore effort, intended to capitalise on the immense popularity of Juno, was Jennifer’s Body (2009), a horror comedy that many felt suffered in comparison to its predecessor.
Written in 2006, the same year Juno was penned, Jennifer’s Body shares that film’s high school setting and off-kilter dialogue. Megan Fox stars as the titular Jennifer (a role turned down by Blake Lively due to scheduling conflicts with Gossip Girl).
Jennifer is a selfish and beautiful cheerleader whose best friend since childhood has been “Needy” Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried). After a rock concert in a dive bar, Jennifer becomes possessed by a demon and is henceforth satisfied only by literally devouring boys. Not for no reason does the film open with the words “Hell is a teenage girl.”
The film has been labelled Twilight for bisexual girls and it’s not hard to see why. The genius of Cody’s script is that, for all the dialogue’s affected cool, Jennifer’s Body is an allegory about adolescence and female friendship.
The skewering of teenage boys (both literally and metaphorically) is inspired; Cody correctly identifies that even the “nice guys” in the school will turn a blind eye to just about anything when confronted with the prospect of getting close to the stunning Jennifer. Puberty can, indeed, feel like hell and Cody, along with director Karyn Kusama, perfectly renders the sheer horror of those formative years.
Fox and Seyfried are excellent, expertly capturing the love-hate aspect of many a teenage friendship. To prepare for her role, Fox stayed out of the sun and lost around 15lbs, bringing her weight down to a mere 97lbs.
The film received mixed reviews and struggled at the box office but producer Reitman stated that the creative team were eager to make unusual films while Cody and Kusuma hoped to speak to female empowerment. It is hard to deny that these aims were achieved and it’s high time there was a critical reappraisal of this wildly entertaining teen horror.
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