Found Footage: “Jennifer’s Body”


Welcome to HEAVEmedia’s swap week! Our columnists have taken over each other’s articles for these next four days. Today – Patrick Gill takes over Nico Lang’s Found Footage to argue for the film Jennifer’s Body.

I have a t-shirt that I wear with some hesitation, but when I do it is with pride. This shirt elicits a very mixed set of reactions: horror, camaraderie, worry, pretentious nose turns and head tilts to name a few. This is my Jennifer’s Body shirt; it has Megan Fox kneeling over a “lasagna with teeth” corpse, face bathed in blood, under a full moon. The bottom spells out the name of the movie in Varsity style letters.

I like Jennifer’s Body. A lot. It’s camping without the bugs and dirt. It’s a grade-A+ B-movie. A lot of people would say otherwise. Many have not even seen the movie. That’s why I got that shirt. To show a little bit more support, and have people who might not know either recoil or delight in it. I understand some of the reasoning behind not enjoying this film. Some people don’t like gore, others don’t understand the simple joys of a Megan Fox performance (that’s another article). Others think it loses viewer interest fast, and I must contend it can be aided with a good side conversation/drinking game/group watch. But there are so many reasons to like it.

There have been arguments for the film as a feminist piece. It features a young woman attacked by men who exacts revenge, young women as both protaganist and antagonist (Fox and Amanda Seyfried) and it was directed and written by women (Karyn Kusama and Diablo Cody, respectively). That’s no small feat in a male-centered film industry. Admittedly, it does have the stamp of Jason Reitman, who directed the Cody-written smash Juno and later her best work with Young Adult, and here was on as a producer. I will leave that to others to look into and decide.

Other people get angry with the Cody-styled Juno-speak, as it shall be called. Yes, no real-life flag girl greets her friend by asking “It smells like Thai food, have you two been fucking?” or “Where’s it at, Monistat?,” but deep down those lines just make me giggle. The dialogue aides the otherworldliness of the film. Because of it, I am taken into a realm where smarmy faux-goth indie band boys sacrifice women for fame and Megan Fox drives a LeBaron. There are 9/11-themed shots, Amy Sedaris is an awesome mom and people want to be famous like that guy from Maroon 5, and that’s right up to the edge of normal. By pushing it over, and having the only person in their town of Devil’s Kettle, Minnesota with an accent be JK Simmons in a bad wig, and that the accentless masses are speaking ridiculously, you have somewhere I want to escape to and understand.

I can’t count all of the films I enjoy on earnestness alone. This film goes for broke harder than MC Hammer. Yes, fallen 90s East Bay rap icon hard. It asks with its advertising and packaging, and with its ghoulish opening and dark tones, if you are okay with things getting over-the-top weird. Its name is taken from a Hole song, so it’s going to get weird. The film then rages on to its last breath, ending with the greatest credit sequence ever made. It’s like those two-hour, 45-minute dramas that try to fit in the most pertinent symbolism and allusion, but short and trashy.

Jennifer’s Body gives you everything you wanted and more: a lady-on-lady make-out scene and fistfights that evolve in to aerial box cutter battles. There is a prom dress-clad swamp/pool battle. It understands that the audience wants to be entertained, and it will work hard to do so, but viewers will also feel like there is something under it, like a sly smile. That’s why I keep watching it. I want to figure out what it is. I also want to giggle at someone being called “lesbi-gay” for someone else.