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Jennifer's Body Blu-ray Review

Jennifer's Body (2009) movie poster Jennifer's Body

Theatrical Release: September 18, 2009 / Running Time: 102 Minutes (Theatrical), 107 Minutes (Unrated) / Rating: R (Theatrical), Not Rated

Director: Karyn Kusama / Writer: Diablo Cody

Cast: Megan Fox (Jennifer Check), Amanda Seyfried (Needy Lesnicky), Johnny Simmons (Chip Dove), Adam Brody (Nikolai Wolf), Sal Cortez (Chas), Ryan Levine (Mick), Juan Riedinger (Dirk), Colin Askey (Keyboardist), Chris Pratt (Roman Duda), Juno Ruddell (Officer Warzak), Kyle Gallner (Colin Gray), Josh Emerson (Jonas Konelle), J.K. Simmons (Mr. Wroblewski), Amy Sedaris (Needy's Mom), Cynthia Stevenson (Chip's Mom)

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By Kelvin Cedeno

It's interesting how few black comedies are made nowadays. Comedies often fall into either the lowbrow or romantic varieties, while horror films are usually played fairly straight. That makes Jennifer's Body a bit of a rare breed.
Not only does it take a firmly tongue-in-cheek approach to its story, but its humor is of the quirky sort. Fox, who made this the final release of its shuttered Fox Atomic label, apparently wasn't sure such a niche genre would sell as the film was marketed more like the average scary movie.

Jennifer's Body tells the story of two best friends: popular high school cheerleader Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) and geeky tagalong pal Needy Lesnicky (Amanda Seyfried). A deadly fire interrupts a local concert they're attending. Amidst the chaos, Jennifer leaves with the band. Upon her return, she has noticeably changed. Her attitude has gotten even cockier than usual, and at times she seems to completely crash and zone out. Meanwhile, teenage boys in the area are being discovered mauled to death one by one. Needy tries to make sense of the two seemingly unrelated oddities and comes to a realization of both Jennifer and the band from that fateful evening.

High school cheerleader Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) flashes the type of glistening smile only the best L.A. dentists can provide. A book about occultist rituals that's a little-too-easily found in the school's library sets the wheels in Needy's (Amanda Seyfried) head into motion.

The most striking thing about the film is just how unpretentious it really is. It understands how ludicrous its storyline is and gleefully pokes fun at it along the way. Characters react to events in unconventional ways, delivering eccentric one-liners at the most inappropriate times. Indeed, Oscar-winning Juno writer Diablo Cody's screenplay can be quite amusing and makes the experience more fun than it ought to be. There's certainly more wit on display here than in most other films of this sort.

Helping things along are the performances by leads Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. Fox has already made quite the name for herself thanks to the blockbuster Transformers franchise, but she has failed to impress thus far in either of those spectacles. The arrogance and phoniness that made her character so unappealing there (especially next to more earnest co-star Shia LaBeouf) actually works to her benefit here. The ironic tone of Jennifer's Body allows her inherent insincerity to fit right in with the intentionally shallow character of Jennifer Check. To Fox's credit, she's given a couple of scenes that allow her to demonstrate some surprisingly solid acting. It may be that she's the type of actress who's only as good as the script and director. Either way, she's quite tolerable here.

Amanda Seyfried is given the more difficult role of Needy Lesnicky. A far cry from her well-known roles in Mean Girls and Mamma Mia!, Needy is the audience's window to what's occurring. While everyone else gets to ham it up, she's the one who grounds the feature and adds a truly human element. Seyfried portrays Needy's awkwardness and insecurity in a believable manner, and makes the gradual change throughout the story smooth and convincing.

Needy (Amanda Seyfried) can't quite figure out why Jennifer's (Megan Fox) appearance and spunk periodically (and drastically) drop several notches with no warning. Needy (Amanda Seyfried) is about to have one of her needs met during an intimate night with boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons).

While the performances and dialogue are strong, the story is awfully weak and doesn't seem to have been given a great deal of thought. Story points arise because they need to, but little context or explanation is provided. For example, Needy's investigating is aided by a strange connection she has with Jennifer:
a connection that causes her to feel (and to a certain extent, even see) what Jennifer does when she's experiencing a particular high. Why does this happen? The story never makes that clear. The connection has to be there for Needy to put the pieces together and show up at the right time, but as she didn't endure the same life-altering event that Jennifer did, it doesn't make sense why she suddenly has vague telekinesis. Other times, characters and scenarios are introduced that completely disappear afterwards without resolution. All of this may be deliberate, but it doesn't stop the story from feeling a bit haphazard.

Jennifer's Body offers some modest entertainment value thanks to its offbeat humor and solid performances. But its run-of-the-mill story doesn't seem to have been fully thought out, and it sits in a middle zone where it's too odd to be truly hilarious yet too cheeky to inspire any genuine thrills. Still, doing what it sets out to, it is an above-average black comedy, the kind that isn't seen enough these days.

The recent DVD and Blu-ray releases of Jennifer's Body contain both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film. The unrated moniker is misleading as this five-minute-longer cut is not made up of additional sex or gore but character beats. Apparently these and the re-arranged sequences are truer to Cody's original screenplay than the theatrical version. While their presence doesn't radically change much, they do offer some minor improvements.

Buy Jennifer's Body on Blu-ray from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD (English),
Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, French, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Thai
Release Date: December 29, 2009
Two single-sided discs (1 BD-50, 1 DVD-5 DVD-ROM)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD
Megan Fox, Lauren Conrad & YOU - Wear Linea Pelle


On Blu-ray, Jennifer's Body appears in its 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The image is a bit difficult to review due to the film's color timing. It's often quite dark, though the blacks don't always look as dense as they could be. Colors have a saturated yet grungy feel to them, and fine film grain is constantly present. All of these traits appear to be intentional and do work for the story. Detail is refined, and the image doesn't suffer from any digital or source flaws. It may not be the right title to show off a home theater system with, but it's true to its intentions and largely pleases.

The DTS-HD 5.1 surround soundtrack works even better. Varying scenarios ranging from burning buildings and supernatural spooks to high school highways and band performances all offer nice dynamics to the mix. They utilize the surrounds to a strong, but not distracting, extent. The individual elements such as music and dialogue don't clamor for attention and are mixed well, allowing for a strong track.

Needy (Amanda Seyfried) grimly eyes her weapon of choice for the confrontation to come in this deleted scene. Megan Fox, Johnny Simmons, and Amanda Seyfried share each other's thoughts and company on (or, rather, in) the set for "Jennifer’s Body: The Dead Pool." Writer Diablo Cody films her day on the set for her video diary.


The supplements begin with two audio commentaries. The first, available only on the theatrical cut, features screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Karyn Kusama.
It's much mellower than anticipated, with Kusama doing most of the speaking. The focus is mainly on story themes and script-to-screen comparisons. These portions are fairly interesting and lend to a better appreciation of the character dynamics, but too many gaps intervene along the way.

Kusama returns by herself for a track on the extended version. Her comments are strictly on the differences between the two cuts and only appear when relevant. While those bits are useful, there is no easy way to skip over the massive stretches of silence in between.

The video features start with six deleted scenes (13:55) (HD) that were not inserted into the extended version. Most of these extend existing scenes. A couple are rather unnecessary and self-serving, but most seem good enough to have been left in. They offer nice character moments and bring certain plot elements full circle.

The gag reel (4:55) (SD) is a curious mix of bloopers, alternate takes, and even storyboards. It begins with standard outtakes, then turns into a sort of music video set to Low Shoulder's "Through the Trees", as final film clips, behind-the-scenes footage, and storyboards come in. The odd approach doesn't make it much more interesting than other reels.

"Jennifer's Body: The Dead Pool" (14:00) (HD) is a surprisingly substantial piece about the making of the film's climax (one of them, anyhow). Interviews with the cast and crew are interspersed with plenty of on-set footage. The participants discuss how the scene was originally scripted and storyboarded, the design of the set, the different tests done for Megan Fox's demon makeup, and the story significance of the sequence. It's a thorough and satisfying featurette.

Next are four "Video Diaries" (12:50) (HD). These feature actors Megan Fox and Johnny Simmons, actress Amanda Seyfried, writer Diablo Cody, and producer Dan Dubiecki. All of them were filmed during the pool sequence, making these feel like an extension of the previous featurette. They don't reveal a great deal, but they're still fun to see.

Megan Fox appears in a PSA for peer pressure which isn't quite fit for airing with an ABC after-school special. "Life After Film School" ironically interviews Diablo Cody, a screenwriter who has actually never been to film school. Jennifer struts her stuff with a scorching backdrop for the disc’s main menu.

"Megan Fox is Hot" (0:55) (HD) is a montage of money shots from the film in which Fox is at her sexiest. Although it comes across as rather pointless, there are surely viewers out there who will value something like this.

"Megan Fox 'Peer Pressure' PSA" (0:40) (SD) is more or less what it sounds like: a public service announcement from the actress about being yourself. Without spoiling too much, it quickly turns into something more than that and makes for a fun inclusion.

"Fox Movie Channel Presents Life After Film School with Writer Diablo Cody" (26:26) (SD) may just take the prize for the longest bonus feature title created.
It also happens to be the disc's best feature. As in the channel's other "Life After Film School" episodes, three students interview the guest about her life, career, and advice for aspiring filmmakers. Cody is refreshingly blunt and honest about all her personal and professional experiences. She's such an engaging speaker here that her silence and awkwardness on the commentary is baffling. Her open answers that go above and beyond the generic questions asked make this both enlightening and entertaining.

The disc opens with trailers for Gentlemen Broncos, All About Steve, Whip It, and Fame. Additional previews can be found within the supplement list for (500) Days of Summer, Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead, and Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side.

A digital copy of the theatrical version is included on its own disc for mobile video devices.

The animated main menu features publicity shots and notebook doodlings fading in and out in front of a fiery red background. The pop-up menu selections are listed in front of pieces of notebook paper with animated blood drops as the cursor. The disc is housed in an eco-friendly case that's not terribly considerate of the discs inside. A code for the digital copy is included along with a leaflet of advertisements.

Red-blooded viewers will be disappointed to know that this scene is about as much of Jennifer's body as we get to see. It's expected for a football player like Jonas (Josh Emerson) and a cheerleader like Jennifer (Megan Fox) to hook up, but surely no one at their school could anticipate how this pairing would end.


Jennifer's Body is not necessarily a good movie, but it's a reasonably interesting one. Megan Fox's shallow acting has finally found an acceptable venue,
Netflix, Inc.
and Amanda Seyfried puts more into her character than the film probably deserves. The screenplay is a mixed bag of sharp dialogue and nonsensical storytelling. The Blu-ray offers accurate picture and excellent sound. The supplements are kind of all over the place, but a few are worthwhile, and the inclusion of both film cuts together is a nice touch.

It's hard to really recommend Jennifer's Body to anyone. Horror fans will be probably be turned off by the intentional quirkiness while fans of such oddities may not care for the gore and crassness. For those who enjoy campy, tongue-in-cheek black comedies, Jennifer's Body may be worth a rental. It at least feels more intelligent than other members of its two genres.

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Reviewed January 7, 2010.

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