Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Diablo Cody, Megan Fox, Jennifer’s Body and other Demons

First of all let me start by saying that I liked the movie. Jennifer’s Body fulfilled my expectations. It was a fun, sarcastic teen black comedy (a la Heathers) with an interesting horror sub-plot. If anything I was disappointed by its poor box office results. One of the main reasons for its cold reception has to do with the backlash for both Diablo Cody and Megan Fox, but not because of the movie itself. It is sad that this movie was not judged objectively; in any event it undoubtingly become a cult movie.

Diablo is one of the few cases where the writer becomes more important than the film. Her story from stripper to riches (which some would not believe if it was a movie), her peculiar writing and her love for the spotlight casted a shadow big enough to eclipse JB. It is understandable why some would find her annoying; Ms. Cody even admitted that in an alternate universe, she would be the one leading the front against someone like “Diablo Cody”. I appreciate her honesty in admitting this and she should get credit for it.

Her sophomore effort, after the highly successful Juno is a tall order. Juno, although overrated is still a pretty good movie, one garnered Diablo an Oscar®. Few writers that I can think of the top of my head have Diablo’s “star” power: Charlie Kaufman, Chuck Palahniuk (even though he’s yet to pen a screenplay) and Stephen King (although the films adapted from his works are mostly misses), to name a few. No matter what she would’ve written she would’ve fallen short. She knew it and Jason Reitman knew it. This was probably part of the reason why Reitman decided not to direct but instead to produce JB. By the way, Jason Reitman is one of the most underrated active directors. He holds a consistently solid track record with his previously helmed productions and seems to be holding his way with his latest. Hopefully Up in the Air will bring him the respect he deserves. In the end, Reitman made the right decision by not directing JB, since he most likely would have been overshadowed again by Diablo. Diablo on the other hand took a risk by not following Juno’s laid path. Sure, JB continues with Diablo’s teen themes and stylized dialogue, but does it in a very different way. Where Juno seemed more grounded in reality (at least within Diablo’s universe), JB is the kind of movie Juno’s characters would go see.

Most of JB’s negative reviews focus on its dialogue; some claim it’s unnatural, cringe worthy at times and that Diablo has worn it off. People in real life don’t talk like movie characters and yet Tarantino’s characters have more than their fair share of die-hard fans. How would have JB been viewed had it been Diablo’s first movie? Would critics be tired of her dialogue? Most likely they wouldn’t. I personally think that after two movies the dialogue is still fresh, hip and fun. What if people don’t really talk like that? If we did talk like that, conversations in general would be less boring and more engaging. The Gilmore girls spitted out snappy pop references at 100 mph and yet the show managed to stay on the air for seven years. So really, how can you be tired of Diablo’s dialogue after two movies? I say give her the benefit of the doubt, at least until her next movie comes out.

Megan Fox has also shared Diablo’s luck with a backlash of her own. Megan, at least in JB, did fit perfectly for Jennifer’s role. Nowadays it seems easier to badmouth her, it has become the “it” thing to do. She has said some outrageous things, but as Michael Bay said “her crazy quips are part of her crazy charm”. Criticize her behavior if you must, but at least give her credit for her performance in JB.

Jennifer’s Body viewed aside from all this negative baggage is a lot of fun and never takes itself too seriously, so why should you? That’s how they talk, deal with it. In time, when viewed and judged exclusively on its own merits it will become a cult movie.

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