In 2009, writer Diablo Cody and director Karyn Kusama teamed up to make a horror-comedy about teenage girls. 10 years later, Jennifer’s Body is better than ever.
“Hell is a teenage girl.” That declaration, with all its foreboding mystery and earnest hyperbole, kicks off Karyn Kusama’s 2009 film Jennifer’s Body. The story that follows functions to make that statement as literal as possible. The movie follows a high school cheerleader who finds herself possessed by a demon that drives her to kill her male classmates and her best friend that tries to save her.
What a difference a decade makes. In 2009, President Obama had just entered office, Twilight fever was in full swing, iPhones still had a curved back, and Jennifer’s Body got a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie, conceived as a horror-comedy satirizing the high school experience, was widely rejected by audiences and critics alike upon its release. Jennifer’s Body entered theaters less than two years after Diablo Cody won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Juno. That Cody’s follow-up to such a beloved movie like Juno was so disliked seems less a byproduct of the movie and much more a reflection of an audience that wasn’t ready for it.
Jennifer’s Body may have challenged audiences expectations in a way the weren’t expecting, but 10 years later, the movie has experienced a rebirth. Despite being unfairly maligned upon its release, the film found its audience years later and is now lauded as a cult classic.
Here’s the thing, though: Jennifer’s Body was always great. It never deserved the poor response it got in 2009. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to give it another chance. Here are 5 reasons to revisit Jennifer’s Body this year.
Megan effing Fox!
For too long, Megan Fox and her career were the subject of ridicule and derision by many in the general public. Her public persona and celebrity image were built around her looks and, as a result, many underestimated her talent when it came to acting. As such, Megan Fox’s performance in Jennifer’s Body has been extremely underrated until now.
Revisiting the movie, it’s impossible not to see how brilliant Fox is as a performer and how well-suited she is to this role. The script demands Fox walk a delicate line between playful and domineering, confident yet vulnerable. It’s a commanding performance, one that illuminates the screen every time she appears.
The journey Jennifer takes over the course of the movie is so well traced thanks to the unique command over the role Fox has. It’s a perfect union of the right actor for the right role; revisit the film today and revel in the glory of Megan Fox’s incredible performance.
Killer one liners
If there’s one thing you can count on when Diablo Cody writes a script for a movie, it’s killer one liners. Scripts like Juno, Young Adult, Tully, and especially Jennifer’s Body are chock-full of biting one liners that have only gotten better with age. Cody’s writing excels when its brutally honest but filled with sarcasm and levity; that about sums up Jennifer’s character in the film to a tee, so it’s no wonder that Cody’s script serves this character so well.
Unfortunately, it seems the Jennifer’s Body generation was still too preoccupied with quoting Mean Girls in 2009 to fully appreciate all the zingers in Cody’s script. Countless lines in this should be permanent staples of movie quote culture and instead they’ve gone to waste. Including the advent of the phrase “Salty” (intended to mean scrumptious or sexy), Jennifer’s Body is full of quips and one liners that will make a rewatch even more enlightening today.
Razor sharp satire
Jennifer’s Body didn’t get nearly enough credit upon its release for its sharp satire on gender and sexual politics, the high school experience, and the treatment of teenage girls. Moreover, it understands — more than a lot of movies — how complicated friendships can be, especially those that we carry with us from childhood. Jennifer and her best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried) are two very different people, yet they continue to maintain their friendship even as it changes, even as they change.
The movie itself expertly holds a mirror up to the audience, asking them to evaluate their own role in the movie. Are you a Jennifer? Are you a Needy? Are you one of the countless men in the movie that underestimate, manipulate, and carelessly objectify the women in the film? Are you a bystander willingly complicit in the untoward behavior of the movie’s villains? Jennifer’s Body will spare no one, creating a pitch perfect allegory for the experience teenage girls face every day and it’s just as razor sharp today.
Perfect cultural time capsule
For some, rewatching Jennifer’s Body, or even watching it for the first time, will feel like stepping into a time machine that whizzes you back to 2009. The music, the pop culture references, the tone and atmosphere, the style of dress…it’s all so incredibly of its time that, watching it today, you might think Karyn Kusama was creating a period piece when she made this. If movies are truly meant to reflect the time at which they were made, Jennifer’s Body is a shining example of what 2009 was like.
For those that loved this movie upon its release, you may be familiar with the soundtrack the studio released for the movie. Featuring songs performed by a variety of pop-punk bands popular at the time including Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, All Time Low, Cute Is What We Aim For, the movie pandered to a very specific audience. Today, that audience has grown up, but Jennifer’s Body will take you back in a second.
It’s actually so gay
It doesn’t seem unfair to suggest that we as a collective pop culture consuming audience have become a lot gayer since 2009. The generation of young people active online have embraced their true sexuality faster and with more confidence than any generation before it. As such, we’re slowly but surely seeing a shift in pop culture to greater inclusion and diversity. While Jennifer’s Body isn’t exactly a shining example of inclusion, it’s actually surprisingly gay.
From the very beginning of the movie, the script bakes in an underlying thread about Jennifer and Needy’s unique relationship. They’re best friends, intimately familiar with one another, and they might be secretly into each other? Revisiting Jennifer’s Body today, it’s obvious how undecided Needy’s sexuality is and how drawn she is to Jennifer. When that plot finally crescendos in a scene where the two girls make out, it reframes the movie around the desire shared between the two friends.
When Needy has to make the choice to kill her best friend to save her boyfriend, she’s also killing the origin of what may be perceived as a forbidden desire. It’s a fascinating way to read a movie that was so misunderstood upon its release. It’s just another reason why you need to make it a priority to revisit Jennifer’s Body.