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More than Megan’s ‘Body’

Say the name Megan Fox near a group of teenage males, and the surrounding temperature will undoubtedly soar. As a matter of fact, I believe if you even think her name too loudly, they’ll begin to fidget and gaze expectantly around the room. But in fairness, I should not just bash the adolescents. Men of every age, nationality, belief structure and undiscovered galaxy would all agree, the young lady is desirable. Who am I kidding, she is sex. For those putting down their hard-earned cash to stare at Miss Fox in “Jennifer’s Body,” this is a windfall. As I was settling in to review the film, it presented a pre-show conundrum. Would I be able to survive 90 minutes of gratuitous, tired, teen, horror-schlock fluff that was almost certain to make up the film?

While not the prototypical high school BFFs, Jennifer and Needy (Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried) are in fact just that: best friends. The pouty boy magnet Jennifer loves to toy with young men (and older, well, let’s just say all), be the center of attention and stalk “salty” (“hot” in Jennifer-speak) indie rockers. On the contrary, Needy is an intelligent, artistic young woman with a steady boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons) and a fairly groovy life.

Written by Diablo Cody (“Juno”), “Jennifer’s Body” shows very early it isn’t your standard schlock fest. The banter is witty and hip giving director Karyn Kusama (“Aeon Flux”) solid ground on which to build her work. She takes full advantage of this by creating a realistic yet darkly comic high school world.

Jennifer pushes Needy into ditching Chip and joining her at the local club to catch her latest infatuation Nikolai (Adam Brody) and his band perform. The club is nothing more than a roadhouse full of the town’s working men and women enjoying an evening out, the opposite of what Jennifer longs for. During the performance, a fire breaks out destroying the structure. During the ensuing carnage, Nikolai and bandmates nonchalantly emerge and offer assistance to Jennifer. Seemingly spellbound, she follows the boys into their van and disappears into the night leaving a stunned Needy standing alone at the scene.

A frightened Needy is visited later that night by a beaten, blood-soaked Jennifer. Soon after, the town is engulfed in terror by the vicious murder of a football star. Jennifer’s strange actions, and overly sexual and aggressive overtones, cause Needy to investigate, leading to an answer she surely never expected.

Despite my trepidation, “Jennifer’s Body” turned out to be a gas. This can be attributed to the well-written plot/script and direction. Without these two elements, this film would have been as I had originally feared: a tired rehashing. Kusama used everything from clothing color to locations to complete a smart, hip film. Veteran character actor J.K. Simmons is a real treat as the small-town principal, but the story ultimately belongs to two young ladies. Both Fox and Seyfried bought into Kusama’s vision and delivered. Fox was surprisingly solid in several uncomfortable scenes that involved actual acting as opposed to posing. Likewise, Seyfried’s Needy was strong throughout, never paling in the bright light of Fox’s notoriety. Also, there are two Internet video clip segments sure to make the rounds: a slow swim in a lake and one of the most sensual kisses ever caught on film.

“Jennifer’s Body” was a good time. The witty banter, well-constructed plot, fabulous soundtrack and dark comedic work all came together most sweetly to provide an enjoyable flick that will leave you satisfied. While not for everyone, it is a homerun for its intended demographic of 17-25-year-olds and the Megan Fox Fan Club. So much so I’m sure there’s a sequel simmering in darkest recesses of opportunistic Hollywood. Catch “Jennifer’s Body” and treat yourself to a fun ride. Did it just get hot in here?

Rating: W W W

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