I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Jennifer’s Body

tn_jennifersbodyWell, I don’t think it’s gonna last too long in theaters, so I wanted to hurry up and say a few things about JENNIFER’S BODY. That’s the new-a-couple-weeks-ago horror movie directed by Karyn Kusama (GIRLFIGHT and AEON FLUX), written by Diablo Cody (JUNO), and starring Amanda Seyfried (MEAN GIRLS, MAMMA MIA). You may be saying wait a minute, number one you said horror but those are all girl names, what in the hell is going on here, and #2 I never heard of a movie called JENNIFER’S BODY that came out in the ’70s or ’80s, so what did they remake this from? Is it a comic book?

Nope, it’s not an adaptation of anything, and it’s a little different from most of the other horror pictures that come out now because it’s from a girl point-of-view and it’s about relationships between girls. It’s not about something easy to sell like isn’t it fucked up how there is no hope at all or remember how there was a movie that had this same title before, well I know you never saw that one but what about seeing this guys, thanks. So Fox Atomic (who I thought got closed down already) panicked and aimed all of the advertising at male boners, basing it entirely around the other star, Megan Fox. The implied tagline is “get out the lotion fellas, it’s Megan Fox.” They didn’t even have Diablo Cody’s name on the trailer, let alone “from Academy Award winning screenwriter Diablo Cody.” So don’t blame her for the movie not selling tickets.

Jennifer's BodyNot that it’s all that great. I don’t think it really works as a whole, but it has enough good stuff that it deserved a better shot. You know how there’s still not equality in women’s salaries, well it’s the same with horror movies because there are plenty of way worse ones that made more money.

Seyfried plays Needy, a bug-eyed high school misfit (one of those hot-but-with-glasses girls they got in movies) whose life-long best friend Jennifer (Fox) grew into the hottest, most popular girl in school. Needy’s a sympathetic protagonist even though she’s introduced bloodying an innocent woman in an insane asylum. She’s not some type like a goth or something, she’s not trying to rebel or to get popular. She’s happy and she has a boyfriend and everything. But she’s been best friends with Jennifer since they were tiny and is kind of worshipful of her. Then after Jennifer leaves a club with some corny indie rock band she returns as a demon who has to eat people to survive, and it works as kind of a metaphor of the changes in their friendship. It’s hard to still hang out with somebody when they change that much. Needy is not comfortable with all the cannibalism and everything.

I don’t completely get the Megan Fox mania that has swept the male portions of the nation. I mean I agree that she looks hot alot of the time, but in the TRANSFORMERS movies she sounds like she’s reading off a card – I figured she was dumb as a sock full of gravel. Doesn’t that ruin it a little? And I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this before, but most of the women who make it in Hollywood look like models, so why the fascination with this particular one? Why is she so much more exciting for them to talk about than Naomi Watts or somebody who’s clearly talented and intelligent? Or I’m sure there’s some twentysomething equivalent.

Well, I don’t know the answer to that but it’s not Megan Fox’s fault and I’ll lay off because she’s actually pretty good in this. It’s not surprising that she knows how to play a sexually aggressive femme fatale monster, but she also handles most of Cody’s dialogue well, which I didn’t expect. I guess she wasn’t exaggerating when she said Michael Bay’s only direction to her was “sit there and look hot.” In those movies sometimes she didn’t sound like she knew what the words she was saying meant, for this one she actually went out of her way to learn. She told Fangoria, “There was some weird shit Jennifer says that I had no idea what it meant, and no one else on set really knew either. We were in the middle of the writers’ strike, and we’d have to call and consult [Diablo Cody] and find out what some of this stuff was.”

I like the characters, I like some of the jokes, but I don’t think there’s enough story here, or maybe it’s just not moving along as quickly as it ought to be. The script might be a little thin but I think the direction might be to blame – some of the timing of the jokes seems a little off, some of the scenes in the middle seem to drag too much.

And I think the similarities to HEATHERS get a little offputting, because of what HEATHERS was saying. It’s hard not to think of that movie when watching JENNIFER’S BODY because you’ve got the same kind of made up slang, you’ve got a scene where one of the leads seduces a football player in the woods and kills him, you’ve got jokes about the awkward ways the teachers deal with the students’ grief over the tragedies, and Megan Fox even looks kind of like Shannen Doherty in parts of the movie. But HEATHERS used those things in an angry portrait of how cruel high school is, JENNIFER’S BODY seems to use it just for fun. It doesn’t have the same substance behind it, which would be fine if nobody had brought up HEATHERS and it didn’t occur to you to compare it. But let’s face it, it occurred to you.

Actually the movie it’s most similar to in substance is GINGER SNAPS. That one used a girl turning into a werewolf as a metaphor for her and her sister growing apart. This one has a girl turning into a demon as she’s growing apart from her childhood best friend. But that’s the part of the movie that works best. I think the relationship between Jennifer and Needy is strong (even though I didn’t understand if Needy really had lesbian feelings for Jennifer or if it was just a childhood curiosity).  This is where having a woman director and a woman writer pays off. I don’t think a dude would handle their friendship as well. It’s the rare horror movie that focuses more on the characters and if anything skimps on the horror.

Same goes for the treatment of sex in the movie, or at least the scene where Needy loses her virginity. The scene is awkward and sweet, not some conquest or uncontrollable lust. And even though it turns scary it’s not one of those things where the boyfriend turns out to be evil. It’s an overall positive experience I think. I don’t think she regrets it, and that’s not something you see in movies too often.

I’m not sure what this movie tells us about the skills of Diablo Cody. You may remember I was put off by the hype around JUNO and was prepared to hate it, but it won me over. Some people can’t get past the little oneliners and pop culture references, and admittedly the dialogue in that opening scene is deadly. But beyond that there’s a genuine sweetness and thoughtfulness that I can get behind. All the jibber jabber is a defense mechanism to hide the emotional vulnerabilities of the character, and maybe the writer too, I’m not sure.

JENNIFER’S BODY has some more of that dialogue she’s known for, but I liked most of it. It works because it’s a teenage girl story. Teenage girls do like to find their own ways of talking, and for movies to make up new ones is a long tradition, it’s allowed. And there are some good laughs. But the construction of the story is not as good as JUNO. It has a good beginning and ending, but the middle gets iffy at times. I think part of the problem is that Needy is the heroine but she’s not really active for alot of it, she’s kind of waiting around while Jennifer’s out murdering people.

So it’s still up in the air whether Cody is an original new voice we are just beginning to know, or whether she’ll disappear after a couple years like that dude who wrote SCREAM. But I wish her the best, and maybe I can help her out with that.

There’s a little part in this movie where Needy, in voiceover, compares somebody to a tree she saw as a kid. Then there’s a quick shot of a little girl looking at a tree, but it doesn’t look like the guy so it doesn’t add to our understanding of what she said, it kind of subtracts from it. Assuming these shots were specified in the scripts, and if I may be so bold as to give nitpicky advice to an Academy Award winning screenwriter, I think Cody should consider that maybe sometimes telling is better than showing, or at least telling is better than showing at the same time as you are also telling. Because there are a couple other parts where I noticed this. In JUNO there’s a funny line about a girl always making faces at Juno and somebody says that’s not making a face, that’s how her face looks. But then it steps on the joke by cutting to the girl making a face, showing what it looks like, making it less funny. JENNIFER’S BODY does it with the ending, too. I loved the ending. Not only does it have an uncredited cameo by an actor we all love, it leaves you laughing about the implication of what happens next… but then it throws a wet towel on it by showing what happens next during the end credits. What’s wrong with implications, man? Should’ve been left to the imagination in my opinion.

And as long as I’m giving unsolicited tips, I’d stay off the web-related slang from here on out. “Honest to blog” was one of the biggest groaners in JUNO, and now JENNIFER’S BODY introduces the horrors of “why don’t you just move along dot org.” Oh well, not a big deal.

The good news is Kusama and Cody do a pretty good job balancing the tone, having lots of jokes but treating the horror semi-seriously. SPOILER – if you’ve seen the movie I want to mention two disturbing moments that I thought were highlights. One was in the beginning when she kicked the orderly. At first I laughed because it was such a sudden and powerful kick, and the way the orderly stumbled over somebody else and had a hard time getting up. But then when I saw the blood and horror on her face it became upsetting, this poor lady, just doing her job, getting the shit beat out of her for no reason. A similar scene was at the end when Jennifer’s mom discovers Needy just after murdering her daughter. It’s such a jarring switch from fantastical monster movie to family tragedy. Good job on that scene.

Well, I think it’s too late, JENNIFER’S BODY has been legally declared a failure at the box office and with critics, and it will quickly slip away since there’s a better horror comedy and a better girl relationships movie both out this week (reviews coming soon). But I don’t look down on it. I liked it. Sort of.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 4th, 2009 at 10:55 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

74 Responses to “Jennifer’s Body”

  1. This movie needs Paul Verhoeven and a rewriting.

  2. I like that in the scenes I’ve seen so far with Megan Fox, she seems unable to close her mouth for more than a second. Maybe it’s because she can’t breathe through her nose, or maybe someone told her that’s a lascivious look, but I can’t stop thinking how stupid that is.

    As to the film, what you’re saying is that it’s not a remake, a reboot, a remodeling, a sequel nor a prequel, and it’s not based on a TV series, a comic or a novel, either? I don’t get it – where did the filmatists [(c) Vern] get the story from? Explain that to me, then.

  3. If we start letting filmmakers come up with their own stories to tell, the world will descend into chaos. (Literally. The movie Chaos was “based on an original idea,” after all.) Someone needs to invent a time machine so we can go into the past and retroactively invent a Jennifer’s Body board game (sort of an Operation type deal, but with boobies) so that this movie can have something to be based on.

  4. Let’s pretend that “Jennifer’s Body” is a remake of that man-eating vagina movie from a few years ago (which btw. borrowed the idea from another man-eating vagina movie that came out even earlier). I know it doesn’t even have a man-eating vagina, you know that it doesn’t even have a man-eating vagina, but let’s pretend it’s a remake, only that Cody tried something different and left the man-eating vagina out. (Like Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” was a remake without the celtic cult and Kung Fu Busta Rhymes.) Just to save the world from getting all chaotic. Okay? We don’t have to tell anyone. I’m just scared. Movies shouldn’t be original. Remember when they started to make movies and had to come up with their own ideas? Shortly after that we had two world wars! Sorry, that’s enough.

  5. I like Cody so I hope she dosen’t end up like Williamson. I don’t think something as terrible as Teaching Mrs. Tingle is possible for her but we’ll see. Megan Fox is a gorgeous woman but seeing her 20 times a day in various media has ruined that for me. It’s a shame this didn’t do well. It has a female director, writer, and star. And that almost never happens. Oh well, we have remakes of Evil Dead, The Crazies, and NOES coming up and they will probably make more than this or Drag Me To Hell.

  6. Good review Vern. I’m holding out for DVD for this one. The marketing didn’t grab me originally, and the first wave of reviews left me numb. However, I came across a few that differed from the pack, and I was wondering if you saw what they saw. Salon and a few other places talked about how the film was less about a woman getting revenge on guys, and more about striking at her best friend. Apparently a couple of the guys who get devoured by the body are Needy’s crushes, and really Jennifer is eating them to get at Needy, because despite being the nerdy girl it’s Needy with the brighter future. Smarter, not trapped by her looks, and knowing what she’s all about. One of the reviews said something to the effect of “in the 21st century the girls have already beat the guys, and now they have the room the show the most dangerous thing of all; that the biggest threat to girls is other girls.” I thought this was more interesting than a lot of the spin out there, and was wondering, did you see this in the film too, or are the reviewers more projecting than anything?

    Oh, and this movie is actually an adaption of a small Turkish fable that was reset in a post-apocalyptic Warsaw and filmed by North Korea’s Happiness Committee. It’s entitled “Well Done Groom Does Not a Bride Make.” So I guess it should have done better, not being original and all.

  7. Ginger Snaps is pretty good . One of the movies , here in Italy on the video market , is called “Licantropia apocalypse” , and with a title like that , I expected a post-apocalyptic , full action movie , like Dawn of the Dead with werewolves . Instead it’s about the relationship of two girls , one of them a hot redhead . Initially I was disappointed , I was expecting Mad-Max-with-fur balls-and-hot-chicks , but the originality of the situation won me over. I also liked the prequel in the western fort . I think the failure here is the marketing and hype , the “female point of view” is something we don’t see very often and when I think about it the first name in my list is always Kathryn Bigelow ( and , in the horror film category , Near Dark ) . Come to think of it , Aliens is basically the battle of two “mothers” trying to defend their “daughters” , and that was directed by a man , so there’s really no excuse to sell this movie as a two hours boner .

  8. Also guys , since we’re on the fantasy film bandwagon , what do you think of the new Rock movie ?

  9. You know , the TOOTH FAIRY ?

  10. Nice review Vern, I’m curious to check the film out, reading between the lines of other reviews it seems like the majority of the films problems stem from the direction more than the script. So it seems kind of unfair that Diablo and Fox (great name for a detective show) are getting shit on by ‘haters’ (blah I hate that term but it fits) with “oh yeah this proves she’s shit she can’t write/act nobody wants to see her movies”.

    Especially stupid as it’s not like these people would use the same Box Office Logic to support shit films as being good because they made money.

    Will check it out when it arrives in the UK.

  11. Kermit – I love The Rock, but re: The Tooth Fairy, WTF??? It took Eddie Murphy like 15 years to get into his exclusive kiddie-film phase. I’m not sure why The Rock has just jumped straight in there after like 5. It’s not like I need more Hard-R crap like Doom from him or anything (easily worse than The Gameplan, though I haven’t seen Witch Mountain or Southland Tales yet), but another movie like The Rundown would be just fine. He already proved he can be dramatic and serious in Gridiron Gang, and funny as hell in Be Cool. It’s like he’s given up and just decided to coast on doing cheap, profitable kids movies.

    And speaking of weird career choices – Ashley Judd kinda dropped off the face of the earth to live in Europe. She admitted that she only came back to the US to campaign for Obama. I guess since now it’s Mission Accomplished, we can assume Ashley Judd gotta eat?

  12. This movie had the shittiest trailers in recent memory. So, I went to see it expecting nothing, and thought it was fucking great. I think if a male directed it, you would get a lot of hacky psuedo-post-feminist bullshit; all of the boys Jennifer kills would be date rapists or something. It would be sort of a variation on that scene in action movies where a 90 pound super-model beats up some 300 pound MMA fighter, who looks at her like, “I can’t believe a mere woman has defeated me. This totally flips my sexist worldview on its head.”

    Megan Fox. I don’t watch the E channel or read entertainment coverage or celebrity gossip, so I don’t hate her. I think she’s the kind of sexy that appeals mostly to fourteen-year-old boys. As a former fourteen year old boy, I have no problem with that. I thought she was perfectly fine in Transformers (if she had “acted” any more than she did it would have completely fucked up the adolescent fantasy that those movies are) and really good in this movie. Some of the hate towards her seems, um, weird (“How dare she disrespect Michael Bay!”)…and, honestly, anybody who would publicly state that “High School Musical” is about a group of boys trying to cope with being molested by their coach…well, to me, that person rocks.

  13. interesting review Vern, I’ll probably give it a rental when it comes out on blu ray

  14. neal2zod : As a fan of The Rock ( both the wrestler and the actor ) , it was the most painful trailer I’ve seen in a while . Even compared to the “Disaster Movie” trailer. The first time I’ve seen the trailers for the “fat suit” movies with Murphy and Lawrence , It was pretty damn clear that you CAN’T go any lower than that. But this ? Avoid Witch Mountain , The Rock is okay in that movie ( well at least he’s not dressed as a fucking fairy ) , but everything else just sucks. I was thinking that , maybe , he was trying different things , not only action , and I respected that , trying to grow as an actor , but now I will gladly wait even for DooM II (the sequel to a semi-shitty video game movie ) instead of this .

  15. Bad Seed – I didn’t quite read *all* of that into it, but I would say that’s a legitimate interpretation of the movie. It’s not at all about getting revenge on guys, it’s not that type of movie at all. I didn’t really think about it but yeah, that’s another thing that’s unpredictable about it. It’s feminist just by presenting females as characters with some dimension to them, not by making them kill men.

  16. Oh, as for The Rock – they recently announced an R-rated action movie where he’s a bank robber getting revenge on some guys who set him up and got his brother killed. And actually it was almost directed by Phil THREE O’CLOCK HIGH Jounau, but then switched to the director of NOTORIOUS.

    But I have to admit I lost alot of my hope for The Rock when I read a heartbreaking interview with him after THE GAME PLAN came out. At the time his view was that he had tried and failed as an action star and the financial success of that movie proved that people wanted him to just star in horrible family movie drivel that Cuba Gooding Jr. turned down. He said it in different words though. The worst part was that he kept referring to his “brand” and what was best for it.

  17. nabroleon dynamite

    October 4th, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Vern!!!

    Where’s the love for super rockin mr magic?

    You are the official hip hop movie reviewer and a legend in hip hop has passed!!

    Get on the ball son!!

  18. I would have thought The Rundown was commercially successful. I wonder why they never made a follow up,it was definitely left wide open for one.

  19. One Guy from Andromeda

    October 4th, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    The dialogue in JUNO made me want to stab my eardrums. I tried to watch that movie three times, first time i stopped after first scene, second time i made it 30 minutes in, third time i turned it off after 15. To me this shit is just completely unbearable, you can hear the script paper rattle. A gem like “why don’t you just move along dot org” tells me to stay clear of this one as well.

  20. Has anybody mentioned that everybody vaguely into horror movies needs to make an attempt to see Paranormal Activity. Forget all the hype. It’s a flat out scary movie.

  21. Nabrolean, I’m not from New York so I don’t know anything about Mr. Magic other than hearing his name mentioned on BDP albums and shit. I didn’t know I was the hip hop movie reviewer either. You should write him up though, I’d read it.

  22. Why do people hate Cody so much? I don’t get it. Really guys, if that (pseudo) post-modernism pop culture referencing pisses you all, you sorta missed that boat by 20 or more years. She’s just another of a long line, for better or for worse.

    And speaking of those, like Mr. Majestyk, who pull the “more original stories please!” card….

    Remember STAR TREK earlier this summer? You know where that main character who’s home world is destroyed as witness, the hero’s father “died” around the time of his birth, same hero destined to be a hero, the good guys infiltrate giant space base-vehicle which destroyed said planet, and escape so they can disarm said weapon before it blows up another world in an all-or-nothing desperate gambit. Oh and hero stranded alone to fend for himself in ice planet.

    Yeah never saw that movie before, today or 32 years ago.

    I liked TREK, but come on lets be fucking consistent here regarding “originality.”

    Better cause to fight for is, lets cook up some alternatives to the cliches.

  23. Or technically to be correct, 29 years ago either.

  24. There are plenty of people who don’t like Cody for the simple reason that they don’t like her work. She has a very specific, very particular way about the scripts she writes and it is a style that annoys the fuck out of people. I don’t really mind the way her characters talk, but I get why it would be fingernails-on-chalkboards for some people. Then there is just the standard backlash against a pop culture figure, Diablo’s coming off of a project where she was declared the GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD SHE WILL DEFINE A GENERATION AND IS A NEW VOICE FOR THE AGES AND OHMYGOD I WANT TO HUG HER and yeah it was a good movie but it wasn’t that good, so people feel the need to express their discontent using the same kind of hyperbole that the people that set them off used. And yes, some people are misogynistic pricks that cannot relate to women or anyone outside of their Mom’s basement.

  25. “There are plenty of people who don’t like Cody for the simple reason that they don’t like her work.”

    Its one thing to not like her work (I’m one of them I suppose), but the sheer HATRED I don’t get, vile as if she’s Anne Coulter or some shit.

    Bay vile hatred I get. Endless movies with very quite adequete budgets, and never improving. Cody did what…ONE movie?

    “Diablo’s coming off of a project where she was declared…”

    Yeah and JJ Abrams is the goat’s shit. Yet LOST can go fuck off, FRINGE can suck itself like Ron Jeremy, though I did like his STAR TREK and that CLOVERFIELD he produced. Overrated personality? Yeah. Excuse to viciously want to decapitate him? No.

    Hell remember years back when Joss Whedon, another geek-idol producer/writer/director, was the bee’s knees? What happened to him anyway?

    Though I wouldn’t mind Keying Bay’s Porsche. That would be worth it.

  26. I think I posted this in one of the AICN talkbacks but “The Tooth Fairy” looks exactly like one of the fake Adam Sandler movies in “Funny People”.

  27. Joss Whedon has a TV show on Fox right now and a movie that he wrote and produced is in production. I quite like all of J.J.’s projects. I’m a raving nut for Lost and I think Fringe is a fun, if not great little piece of sci-fi. And no, RRA you don’t have the instinct to physically punish, or talk about physically punishing someone just because you don’t appreciate their work, in fact most sensible people would agree with you, myself included. But we aren’t really dealing with rational people. We are dealing with the internet where every point is best expressed with exclamation points.

  28. I’ll throw in my sadness at what Dwayne Johnson has become. I thought he was our hope for a new action film star. And a rare one that had the arnie like physique coupled with charisma, acting ability and comic timing. Why the fuck hollywood couldn’t build a franchise around this guy I have no idea.

    I still think Scorpion King is one of the best recent swords’n’sandals/fantasy films we have. Damn entertaining.

  29. “I’m a raving nut for Lost and I think Fringe is a fun”

    Don’t have to defend your geek credentials.

    But really mate, your earlier post is sorta what I’m mystified by. ITs not like her movie wrongly beat a better movie simply because the voting academy got cold homophobic feet and voted for a condescending and immature take on racism.

  30. Yeah I was also angry when Return of the King won. Heh. In all honesty man, I’m not totally sure why she attracts so much negativity, so I was just spit-balling ideas. But if I really had to nail it down, I would suggest that nerds hate Diablo Cody so much because she’s woman, and many of the people who write about her are sexist cunts that can’t stand to see a pretty girl achieve success and act like she has some kind of equal status in the film industry. I wasn’t trying to be defensive about what I like, I was just letting you know where I’m coming from as a fan so we can have a conversation on the same page.

  31. i never saw “juno.” i avoided it because of precisely the same apprehensions that vern alluded to having before he saw it. also, i wasn’t a big fan of the director’s previous movie, “thank you for smoking.” but if it did win vern over (a fact i had forgotten) maybe i will give it a shot. while i don’t agree with vern 100% of the time, he is by far the reviewer i trust the most (i have to this day avoided both “transformers” movies based largely on vern’s classic original review – a vern review isn’t enough to convince me to watch or avoid a movie on its own, but if, as in this case, it confirms either my worst fears or my positive hopes for a movie, it can make my decision).

    i have actualy been looking forward to “jennifer’s body,” but it hasn’t come out here in japan yet, and given the dismal performance in america, i’m not sure it ever will (it might get a small, one theater release, in which case i will check it out).

    speaking of which, i know i made a commitment (to striving for excellence?) to provide y’all with the japanese titles for movies that are reviewed here, but so far, we have had “only the strong,” and the japanese title for that is just the original title rendered phonetically in japanese (“onrii za sutorongu”) – this actually happens a lot these days – and since “jennifer’s body” has no specific plans for a japan release yet, i was unable to find the japanese title (it will probably just be phonetic though).

    as for the rock, yes, everyone loves “the rundown,” but am i the only one who enjoyed “doom”? i thought it was a funny, kind of self-aware sci-fi horror comedy. and in it the rock plays [SPOILER] a villain, which is i think the only time that has happened (unless you count the less-convincing-than-claymation CGI version of him in “the mummy returns”). [END SPOILER] like pretty much everyone here, i think that rock has enormous potential and great screen presence, and i still hold out hope for him, despite the recent string of family-pandering pablum of the past few years. i hope it’s not true that he has given up on being an action star. specifically action/comedy. i saw the trailer for “the tooth fairy” and thought it was horrible, but i am very curious just to see stephen mercant in it. i love that guy.

  32. stephen MERCHANT (obviously)

  33. Wow , good news , Vern , on that bank robber movie with the Rock. At least the action movies are not out of the picture , proof that he’s still trying different things . On the other hand , I really don’t like when people talk about a “brand” or “franchise” .

    GoodBadGroovy : Yeah , Scorpion King is good fun . I hope The Fucking Tooth Fairy BOMBS , so , maybe , The Rock will consider doing a DTV sequel to that one in the future , with Randy Couture !

  34. “I would suggest that nerds hate Diablo Cody so much because she’s woman”

    Brendan – Perhaps, though if you want my personal musing: Its because she was a stripper.

    And not necessarily because she used to flash her titties for $1 tips. Its that she reminds these assholes on the Internet who are would-be striving artists/writers/filmmakers/whatever…and her success just reminds them way too much that she’s there. And they’re not.

    Which perhaps also might explain why those STAR TREK / TRANSFORMERS 2 scriptwriters are absolutely hated too. Yes get paid millions and millions for “writing” Transformers 2. Oh I would be jealous too.

  35. The writers for Star Trek/Transformers are hated for perfectly good reasons compared to Diablo Cody. Whilst perhaps there’s an aspect of jealousy with Orci/Kurtzman for being so baltently terrible writers yet being popular, I also think they represent how little Hollywood cares for a good script in its big budget films and how bizarre it is that two people who cannot write good script or dialogue or comedy have gotten to where they are. This may sound hyperbolic but I really believe they’re hurting the industry.

    The Diablo hate is no doubt a mixture of things, though i think you’re defintly on the ball that her ex-stripper turned oscar winner aspect to her is one of the main things.

  36. One Guy from Andromeda

    October 5th, 2009 at 7:14 am

    I don’t know why it always has to be about hate with you guys. I don’t hate Diablo Cody, i don’t love her, i don’t know her in the slightest. This endless picking of sides to uphold bullshit discussions – what’s the use? “People hate Juno because they’re misogynist pigs!” “People prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla because they are fascists!”

    I seriously dislike her writing style, sure, but i also seriously dislike the writing styles of close friends of mine. So, what i’m basically trying to say is…. meh: There’s no discussing taste really.

  37. ““People prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla because they are fascists!””

    I would think that would make them liberals? :)

  38. One Guy from Andromeda

    October 5th, 2009 at 7:46 am

    i prefer strawberry myself, because i’m a communist ; )

  39. Jareth Cutestory

    October 5th, 2009 at 7:49 am

    One Guy from Andromeda – We’re going a bit beyond taste, though. A film like AMELIE had fans and detractors; some epople adored it, others thought it was annoying. In a perfect world, a Diablo Cody film would ellicit a similar range of responses. But if you wander around the internet, you’ll find reactions to Cody and her work that go so far beyond a resonable response to her work that you just have to question the motives of the people perpetrating the opinions.

    But hey, I wish everyone were as reasonable about this as you seem to be. I really don’t get where all the hyperbole comes from, or what need it is fulfilling.

  40. One Guy from Andromeda

    October 5th, 2009 at 8:28 am

    I understand that, but i don’t think the way to react to hateful generalization is hateful generalization. It’s just the self perpetuating internet hate machine. But nevermind that, i am in a hippy phase. Too much Beatles recently.

  41. Speaking of Ginger Snaps, I don’t remember seeing a review of Ginger Snaps 3 here, is it any good?

  42. It’s decent. The frontier setting gives it a little something different. I think the second one is the best, though. The problem with most werewolf movies is that they tell the exact same story (the origin and downfall of the lycanthrope), but Ginger Snaps 2: Generic Subtitle takes werewolfism as a given and builds from there. Sort of like how superhero sequels are almost always better.

  43. Jareth Cutestory

    October 5th, 2009 at 9:05 am

    “i don’t think the way to react to hateful generalization is hateful generalization.”

    Words of wisdom, Lloyd, words of wisdom.

  44. Toxic, Vern reviewed the prequel on Aint it cool.

  45. Thanks Mr M, thanks Mr C. I just assumed all the reviews were available here now, I didn’t know that there were still some that were exclusive to AICN.

  46. I think what gets a lot of people angry about Cody is dialogue that seems to fancy itself inordinately clever, and then pat itself on the back for being so.

    The woman herself seems perfectly fine, but I couldn’t make it through JUNO.

  47. ” is dialogue that seems to fancy itself inordinately clever, and then pat itself on the back for being so. ”

    You know using those precise words, I could argue the same of Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith. Of course they’re better, but lets admit it: When they started that shit in the early 1990s with the direct pop culture referencing, it was fresh. It was new. Also, their movies were fucking good.

    Good as in we still talk about them.

  48. I don’t know, I thought JUNO was more emotionally effective than anything Smith’s made, and had characters who didn’t talk in the same voice as Juno and her friend. I don’t like his style at all but I admit he’s getting better – I thought ZACK AND MIRI was okay. And was shot in a professional manner and everything.

    But it’s a good point. There are writers who have very recognizable styles of dialogue, it’s not supposed to be realistic, it’s stylized. And if you like their style it can be great, if you don’t like it it will drive you up a wall. Along with Tarantino I think you could throw in Joss Whedon, the guy who wrote HEATHERS, the West Wing guy, and even the Coen brothers although their style is harder to pinpoint, it’s not as much of a formula. But they have lines that only they would ever think to write.

    Casey’s criticism is legit though. Some of that shit at the beginning with Rainn Wilson was not just bad, I would go so far as to say it’s abominable. There’s definitely a self-consciousness to some of the slang and references that I can understand bothering people. I can’t defend “that’s one doodle that can’t be undid, home skillet.”

  49. I gotta admit, I laughed at the “homeskillet” line. I can’t explain why, the line doesn’t even make any sense, but I chuckled. The far worse transgression that JUNO made was advancing the ridiculous opinion that THE WIZARD OF GORE is a better film that SUSPIRIA. Heresy, I say!

  50. Damn, CJ, you forwarded this to Diablo Cody on the twitter? If she read it I’d feel like an asshole. I actually liked the movie more than it sounds in the review. Not entirely successful, but lots to offer and I liked what it was trying to do.

    I hope she doesn’t read this, but if she does I would welcome her opinions on The Rock.

  51. Good point, Crustacean. Also it promotes the confusion of Thundercats and Thunderbirds, which in real life are two totally different types of thunder animals.

  52. And two completely different forms of disturbing hentai.

    Damn Internet.

  53. I wonder if that Thundercats/Thunderbirds gaffe wasn’t intentional, showing us that Juno made these kind of glib pop culture references in order to sound cool without being aware of the context. Or maybe it’s sloppy writing.

  54. Vern is there any chance you’ll give Smith’s cop movie with Bruce a look? I’m a fan of Kevin Smith, and they’ve put together a really good cast but something about the title and the little details that’ve leaked out make me concerned it’ll be some studio piece of shit, like National Security or something like that.

  55. Brendan – You mean another JERSEY GIRL?

  56. but bruce is in it, so it’s required viewing.

  57. Sorry about that, Vern. I admit it was a very impulsive idea of me. I won’t so this again (Unless I bump into Steven Seagal one day. )

    And about Kevin Smith: I always liked his style. Mostly because he doesn’t even try to convince anybody that whatever he does is “art” or even cool and I think this unpretenciousness (I got no idea if this is even a word) is what makes his movies really stand out. He’s like the guy who you know from school, who sat behind you and always told these crazy stories about the crazy people he knew.
    And to be honest, he was even able to get me emotional more than once. Even outside of “Chasing Amy”. Shit, “Clerks 2” was pretty much about everything that’s going on in my life for the last few years! (Minus the donkey fucking.)
    P.S.: I like “Jersey Girl”! It’s not his best movie and I wish that his trip into the world of mainstream-romcoms would’ve been a little bit less formulaic, but I will be damned if it’s not MUCH more entertaining than 97% of the other movies in this genre, has a wonderful range of lovable and memorable characters and that George Carlin should’ve won every possible award for his performance! (And the audio commentary, in which he talks about his plans to re-cut it into a horror movie made me cry from laughing.)

  58. I agree with you CJ, part of the charm is how rough a lot of his stuff looks, and how honest he is about it. There is no bigger critic of Kevin Smith then Kevin Smith, but he does improve on a film to film basis and I think him and his cinematographer David Klein have established a clean, professional look in their movies and side projects (Reaper) that they can stick to and tweak and look fine. Probably not going to win any Oscars but hey, fuck those guys.
    I actually quite like Jersey Girl, and only begrudge it the fact that when it didn’t do very well, Kevin retreated into himself. He made Clerks 2, which I liked, but it felt like he was in stutter mode. If you listen to the interviews and whatnot on that disc, he talks about how he realized that he only wanted to do projects that he wrote and his pal Scott produced, and wanted to avoid big budgets and stars and action and stuff. And now here he is, making a big budget, star studded studio movie that has action and that he hasn’t written and wasn’t produced by Mosier. So he has finally arrived at the place he was set to rise to, it took four years of donkey fucking and dong sabers to get there.

  59. I always appreciated the way Kevin Smith wears his heart on his sleeve. If some of his movies wind up feeling kinda cheesy at the end, I get the feeling it’s just because he loves his characters and is personally a big softie at heart. Sure, maybe its schmaltz, but its legitimate schmaltz, schmaltz strait from the heart. So even if its a little awkward sometimes, it usually feels to me like earned awkwardness from a guy who’s just putting himself out there as he is.*

    It’s kinda hard to tell if I’ll feel the same about Diablo Cody or not. Based entirely on JUNO, her dialogue can tend towards the overly labored clever, but on the other hand I feel like its also based in a rather keen eye for detail in people and language. I doubt she’d write the same dialogue for adults as she’s writing for the kind of kids we see in JUNO and JENNIFER. I felt like (again, based on JUNO) she had a knack for cultivating characters who feel a little more unique and real than the the standard tropes we’re used to (and it sounds like from Vern’s review she’s been able to do that again).

    I’ve been wanting to see JENNIFER to test my theory, but poverty, destitution, etc. Anyway, Cody’s definitely a very funny writer with a unique sensibility (that much seems clear) and I’m very curious as to where her career goes. Can we at least wait two movies into a person’s career to start hating, guys?

    *If you want to understand why I love Kevin Smith, skip his movies completely and watch his kinda-stand-up AN EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH (there are also two sequels which I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t seen). Getting to just stand up and be himself, you can see that his abilities as a storyteller are impressive. And Vern, as a Prince fan, you owe it to yourself to hear his epic tale regarding the man in purple. It’s way to good to spoil, but a lot of the greatness is in the telling anyway.

  60. Codys’ still developing I think so some of her more distracting tendencies may get ironed out. The field of Hollywood screenwriting is so barren right now in terms of having recognizable voices that we should probably appreciate the few we have.

  61. I liked CLERKS back when it came out. It was scrappy and indie and his voice was unique and exciting. I’ve liked bits and pieces of his other films (I thought DOGMA was kind of interesting) but they’ve mostly gotten worse and worse, or rather his severe flaws have become more transparent. I couldn’t even make it ten minutes into CLERKS II and every time he attempts genuine human emotion it results in schmaltz that would have Ron Howard reaching for a sick bag.

    I’ve seen two of the AN EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH and he is definitely good at telling a story, but he’s still a pretty bad director. ZACK AND MIRI shows improvement, but I thought it was pretty funny that he couldn’t even stage a porno convincingly. I wish he would stick to the writing and let someone else get into the director’s chair, but he seems to be going in the opposite direction. Good on him for trying, but the fact that he’s honest about his limitations doesn’t give him a free pass from me.

  62. Mr. S – I suppose that schmaltz thing with Smith’s problem is that he was a big John Hughes fan. I believe he said his favorite Hughes, to the surprise and disdain of a Q & A crowd, was SHE’S HAVING A BABY. That might explain JERSEY GIRL.

  63. RRA – I don’t doubt it – although of course Hughes isn’t necessarily a mark of shame in my book. But I guess that means to me the schmaltz feels genuine, rather than manipulative. Plus, although his direction is all over the place, he tends to get great performances from actors, and gives them interesting and unique characters. So even when he goes for the sappy ending, its not exactly bland or generic, like so many of those moments in other movies.

    Crusty — yeah, can’t exactly defend his directing, but some of his iffiest directing moments are in some of his most interesting movies, so they’re more watchable (CLERKS, CHASING AMY, DOGMA). His recent ones like CLERKS II and ZACK AND MIRI strike me as pretty well constructed films, with consistent tone and passable photography. I liked both of those, actually, although they seem a little more minor in some ways than his earlier, edgier stuff. What turned you off of CLERKS II? I actually kind of admired him for revisiting the characters and finding new vulnerabilities and disappointments. Its kinda predictable (well, except the donkey stuff) but it’s got unique and likable characters and some genuine insight into their lives.

  64. I do dig Clerks 2, but on the rewatch some of the stuff that seemed clever (the Star Wars vs. LOTR stuff) is kind of painful to sit through. And I really hate writing this part but it needs to be said: neither Dante or Randal can really act. When they’re just sitting around shooting the shit it’s fine, we can all just groove with the dialogue and not be bothered by the occasional awkward delivery, but towards the end when they are having a heartfelt discussion about their feelings and what they want out of life it makes me wince (although Randal’s last moment where he just flat out begs Dante not to leave him does get me). Granted these same problems occur in the first Clerks BUT the crudity of the visuals and the fact that every single actor is on a sliding scale of quality with those two on the top, it makes it easier to overcome. But Clerks 2 is hampered as much as it is helped by all the solid performers in front of or behind the camera, so it makes the lack of authenticity of the performances stick out that much more. On the one hand having Rosario is great because she’s so talented and gorgeous, but she is just so lightyears ahead of everyone else on screen in terms of ability it just makes every note with her seem more like bullshit then a legitimate relationship, which is weird because Smith is usually so good and so careful about constructing relationships around charaters that feel like real ones (Holden and Alyssa, Zack and Miri). I will say that Brian O’Halloran deserves some credit because every once in a while he is able to nail his role (especially in the roof top scene) and Rosario probably deserved an Oscar because for a while she actually had me convinced that she would have fucked a guy like Dante (but alas all sweet dreams must end). It is kind of weird because I would actually say that after Rosario the best, most consistent performance belonged to Kevin’s wife who does a good job of playing the Jennifer Garner character in Juno (see, we can make this post relevant again) aka the character who in any other movie would be an evil bitch that we all hate, but here is shown to be three-dimensional and sympathetic, maybe even moreso then some of the other more likable characters. But more then anything else, the thing I like about Clerks 2, and Kevin Smith movies and Kevin Smith himself, is that while they all have rough edges and sometimes make roll my eyes and get frustrated (Die Hard 4? Jesus Kevin) all of them make me laugh and are guaranteed to put a smile on my face and give me my money’s worth. Kind of like a donkey show.

  65. Mr S: Well, I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I only got about ten minutes in so I probably didn’t give it a fair shake. I think I was watching that LOTR vs STAR WARS discussion and I realised that I hadn’t laughed once, so I turned it off. Maybe I will probably give it another chance one of these days, because I heard a lot of good things about it and I like the first one (although not as much as I used to).

    ZACK AND MIRI ETC is probably my favourite of his films but the ending still rings completely hollow for me, with bizarre character about-faces, out-of-the-blue sentimentality and everybody running around trying to save a relationship that I couldn’t care less about. I don’t want to bring yet another filmmaker into this discussion, but I think Judd Apatow handles the crude humour/sentimental ending thing way better. A lot of the time Smith’s characters seem like props to hang his dialog from.

  66. Brendan — Well, I feel pretty much the same way, I guess — I think Anderson and O’Halloran are fair actors with moments of greatness. They can be a little stiff or awkward sometimes, but they also have pretty great comic timing and occasionally really hit their stride with the emotional stuff too (Randal’s prison speech, Dante and Rosario). They also do really great voice work for the shamefully short-lived CLERKS animated series (which also proved, long before 30 Rock was even a glimmer in Tina Fey’s eye, that Alec Baldwin is a comic genius). So generally I feel like the acting doesn’t break the movie for me.

    Crusty — well, what can I say, you can’t please everyone. It might be worth getting a little
    deeper into it, because it escalates to some pretty funny stuff and anything with Elias is pure
    gold, IMHO (he’s the film’s secret weapon, a really weird, funny, character played to the hilt.
    He’s a great adversary for Randel but also kind of loveable, in a way which makes him
    essential to the film’s charm).

    But, then again, if you found the first ten an absolute wasteland of humor, maybe the thing’s just not for you. At any rate, it’s a very, very different movie in form, content and tone than CLERKS so I can easily see someone liking one but not the other. I admit I did feel that the end of ZACK AND MIRI was a little clunky (kind of like an episode of Scrubs, where JD just does something assholish out of the blue because the story needs some drama). I ended up feeling like the performances and jokes smoothed over its rough edges enough for me to enjoy it, though. And like I said, even when Smith gets a little touchy-feely, it always feels to me like it comes from a guy who’s just a big sucker at heart and wants a happy ending for his characters. Which I find kind of inherently sweet, so I think it makes it easier for me to buy.

  67. Well, I came to this review very late and “Jennifer’s Body” has long since been buried commercial, but I wanted to chime in on something anything, with regard to Diablo Cody’s writing and the dialogue in the opening scene of “Juno.” Now I can only assume that the deadly dialogue in that scene to which Vern was referring to is the “That’s one doodle that can’t be un-did, home skillet” line delivered by Rainn Wilson. That’s at least the most memorable fragment from that scene, seeing as how it was played up previews & commercials.

    That isn’t a very good line on the surface, but then again, haven’t we all known people who thought they were cool and delivered lines that were intended to sound cool but that really only made them sound even less cool & actually stupid (hell, we’ve all probably been that person at one time or another, I know I have). That’s how I took it for that character – a character trying to be cool and hip but who was actually anything but. Maybe I’m just an easy mark and I’m giving Ms. Cody too much credit, but that’s how I took it, anyway. What can I say, it kind of worked for me in that context.

    Now the whole bit with the living room furniture is another story. I honestly don’t know what the script was going for there & I don’t think the filmmakers did either since they treated it like a total throwaway quirk.

  68. Tom — I tend to agree with you. Diablo takes a lot of crap from people who feel like her dialogue is too self-consciously clever, but my feeling has always been that she’s just writing characters who are self-conscious about their wit. I like to think that she has a sharpenough ear for the way people speak that things which sound kind of similar read very differently from character to character and are a reflection on his or her personality (as in Rainn Wilson’s very labored banter). And it should be noted that the adults in her movies tend to speak pretty differently from the kids.

  69. To also jump in late on the discussion myself, let me put forth a few thoughts on the JUNO/Diablo Cody backlash. I think JUNO is a perfectly okay movie, it’s funny and likable enough. But it’s nothing special. It’s not a great comedy, it’s sweet but not all that moving. The direction is uninspired, striking the exact tone as a million cutesy quirkfests before it, with their hipster poise and their soft indie-rock soundtracks. It’s enjoyable and forgettable, your quintessential cute dramedy.

    Yet somehow it ended up getting discussed as one of the best pictures of the year, Roger Ebert got all moist over it, it won an Oscar, etc. For all the people that fell in love with JUNO, I think just as many of us saw it and went “yeah, that was a cute movie” and then more or less dismissed it. (Same thing happened to me with LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.) So we were confused as fuck by all the love it got, which has lead to a nasty backlash, aimed at Cody because of all the press she got for the film (I mean, I would venture to guess more people know that she wrote it than know that Jason Reitman directed it).

    The one other thing that baffles me is how that opening scene has become some sort of sacrificial lamb for people who liked the movie. Vern isn’t the person I’ve read who singled it out for derision but liked the rest of the movie. I don’t get it. The dialogue in that scene sounds exactly the same as the rest of the film, it’s no better or worse. My only guess is that these people got used to Cody’s writing style as it went along, sort of like when your bath water feels to hot at first but the you get used to it. The bath didn’t get colder, you just adjusted.

  70. “Vern isn’t the ONLY person…” I meant to write.

  71. Dan – eh, I would venture to say that the first scene is clunkier and more self-conscious than most of the rest of the movie. The dialogue sounds smarmier and more disingenuous coming from Wilson than most of the other characters (Tom and I think this may be the point, but that’s debatable) and its just one line after another. Things settle down a bit in the cleverness department after that, and I think the other actors sound more natural with it. I, for one, thought the movie was pretty money; a far sight funnier and more real than most films of its ilk (owing, in a large and unexplored part, to the fantastic direction of Jason Reitman, who sets such a winning and consisent tone –without hitting you over the head with it — that most people seemed to forget he was there).

  72. Orange juice and Mouldy Peaches = SO QUIRKY GUYS SERIOUSLY

  73. I’ve done some reading and apparently the director’s cut (even though it is only about a minute longer) “waves its freak flag higher” and includes Jennifer mailing the testicles of one of her victims to his parents.

    I liked this movie when I saw it in cinemas and thought it had the potential to be one of those movies where a longer cut fixes almost any objections I had (like both Watchmen and Kingdom of Heaven did). So if I see a cheap used copy of this, I just might buy it.

  74. Some men fight a never-ending war on crime, or the forces of evil.

    But for some… it’s water damage!

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