I'm not going to lie: I loved 'Jennifer's Body.'
And this is coming from someone who previously hated anything Diablo Cody touched. Her previous film, and the one she won the Oscar for, 'Juno' I despised. I found it a cloying, cutesy, anti-feminist fantasy. I also consider her monthly Entertainment Weekly column to be the bottom of the barrel of snide, self-important trash, especially compared with that magazine's other guest columnists, Stephen King and Mark Harris.
I wasn't looking forward to 'Jennifer's Body,' either. Despite the colorful supporting cast (including J.K. Simmons, Amy Sedaris and others), the last thing I wanted to watch was Megan Fox, more robotic than any of the actual, you know, robots from the 'Transformers' films, try to play a bitchy teenage demon (or something). And yet I went into 'Jennifer's Body,' and had a smile on my face the entire time. In fact, coming out of it, I thought it was something special, spectacular even - a nifty little horror movie written by someone who clearly has a love of the genre, and one that could become a cult classic in the years to come. It even warmed me up to Diablo Cody.
The story of 'Jennifer's Body' follows: Jennifer (Fox) is a high school alpha bitch. Her best friend since a young age is Needy (Amanda Seyfried), mousy and insecure. Jennifer drags Needy to a rock show at a local bar, featuring a band called Low Shoulder, led by a charismatic singer (Adam Brody). After the bar burns down, in a scene that eerily mimics the Great White tragedy from a few years ago, the band abducts Jennifer, offering her up as a human sacrifice so they can become a successful band. Except, you know, they needed a virgin, and as Jennifer says in an early scene, she's not even a "back-door virgin." So instead of dying, Jennifer becomes possessed (or something), mutating into a succubus that must feed on human flesh in order to survive. So, in the ultimate cat fight, Needy must put an end to Jennifer's reign of terror.
Is 'Jennifer's Body' perfect? Not by a long shot. There are moments that really drag, and Cody's stylized dialogue, which feels much more natural here than it did in 'Juno,' occasionally grates. Also, if you've seen the superb Canadian werewolf movie 'Ginger Snaps,' this movie won't feel as cutting edge as it could. Also, the film's Goth-pop soundtrack, full of up-to-the minute bands, becomes a kind of white noise.
But on the whole, 'Jennifer's Body' is smart, crackling pop entertainment. It moves quite nicely, oscillating between humor and horror with graceful ease. The cast is all around wonderful. I should have never doubted Fox because (as she demonstrated in her underrated appearance on 'SNL' this year) she has wonderful comic timing and can deliver one of her razor-sharp cut downs beautifully. Even better is Seyfried, who, let's be honest, is about ten times cuter than Fox (with her Na'vi-sized eyes), and whose turn from vulnerable imp to determined avenger is the emotional structure on which the entire movie depends.
The film's director, Karyn Kusama, who directed 'Girlfight' and the underrated 'Aeon Flux,' adds the appropriate amount of visual punch to Cody's script. A lesser director would have been overwhelmed with both the dense dialogue and the liberal switch between comedy and horror that the film always bounces back and forth between, but Kusama does right on both accounts, nailing the tone (even better in the director's cut - more on that in a minute) and Cody's dialogue in equal measure. Imagine how awful this could have been - a 'Mean Girls' type movie where one of the girls is a cannibal. But honestly, you should give 'Jennifer's Body' a shot. It's smart, funny, sexy, violent, and destined to be a cult classic.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The 50GB disc is Region "A" locked. The disc auto-plays when you pop it in, after which you're treated to an absolutely abysmal array of trailers - for 'Gentlemen Broncos,' 'All About Steve,' 'Whip It,' and 'Fame.' Whew, rough year, Fox. You can also choose which version of the movie you'd like to watch - the theatrical cut, which runs 1:42:21, and the extended cut, which runs 1:47:29. Also, this is a two-disc set with a digital copy.
The disc sports a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer (in the film's original theatrical 1.85:1 ratio) that really captures the mood of the film quite well. This is a really solid presentation all around. Skin tones look good, especially given its importance to the narrative (Jennifer's skin pales when she hasn't fed); detail is wonderful (the gore and make-up gags look great); color really pops when necessary (like an early slow-motion shot of Jennifer practicing her cheerleading moves in a gold-and-purple uniform); and for a movie drenched in atmospheric shadows, black levels are exceptional.
Other than that, there's not a whole lot to say. There aren't any distracting technical issues or other buggy business. There are moments of occasional graininess, but these moments are few and far between. The image looks flawless, like it's been scrubbed clean, but there aren't any annoying remnants of digital noise reduction, either. It's just a great looking picture and one that is all too easy to overlook because, while it's not exactly reference quality, it is quite exceptional.
Similarly impressive is the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, which hits all the right notes.
This track exceeds for a number of reasons, first and foremost the fact that the more active scenes (like the bar burning down or one of Jennifer's vicious attacks) are given wonderful surround support. As the camera whips around and things get more muscular, so does the mix. It really gets loud and the immersive roar of the mix will impress you, regardless of how you feel about the movie. Similarly, the more dialogue heavy scenes (this is a Diablo Cody scripted movie, after all) are given the appropriate amount of heft. Everything sounds clear, crisp and well prioritized and it doesn't matter if it's a screaming high school banshee or two girls talking.
Atmosphere is good, both the score and the loud-ass pop punk songs sound great (the songs, in particular, rattle bass), and everything sounds pretty wonderful. Again, not a reference track, but one strong enough that it deserves praise (just like the movie itself!)
Additionally, the discs has Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, and subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and Thai.
This disc sports a lot of great extras, but most of them are reserved for the Blu-ray, so we'll talk about that in a minute. The main special feature, as far as I'm concerned, is the inclusion of the Director's Cut on the disc. As someone who read a good portion of the script about a year ago (after a friend in the biz send it to me with the exclamatory introduction "It's the next 'Scream!'" - clearly the box office didn't see this through), the Director's Cut fits into the original script both tonally and structurally. As you saw from the running times of the two versions, there's not a whole lot of difference in terms of time, but it's more about switching out and rearranging scenes etc. that really equal something special. I don't want to give specifics for those that haven't seen it yet, but I wholly endorse the Director's Cut as the preferred version.
Also, there is a button on the menu for 'Trailers,' although there isn't a single trailer for 'Jennifer's Body,' possibly because Fox realized how much they screwed up the marketing for this witty little movie. Anyway, I don't give much thought to a section of trailers where the trailer for the actual movie isn't there.
You know what? Screw the bad reviews and ignore the box office - 'Jennifer's Body' is a whip smart little horror comedy that I absolutely adored. Blood and bitchiness are mixed liberally, to absolutely endearing effect. Diablo Cody has finally won me over. The 'J-Bod' disc sports sublime audio and video and a nice host of special features (most of them Blu-ray exclusives). I highly recommend this future cult classic for any discerning movie lover, with particular love for the Director's Cut version.