29.1.11

How to Ruin Your Own Movie: Jennifer's Body Edition

I've established well and thoroughly just what a plague on the film industry this whole 'start the movie at the end' thing is, and in the process of covering these films I thought I'd seen nearly every way imaginable for a film to spoil its entire plot in the opening seconds. Even I, jaded though I am, was wholly unprepared for how bound and determined Jennifer's Body is to murder any attempts at suspense. If you're at all interested in learning how to ruin your own movie, look no further than Jennifer's Body - it is a master's class on the subject.

So, with no further ado, here's the first shot of the movie:

Our main character, Needy (so called because she is not at all a needy character) is in a mental institution, reflecting on the events of the film. What are those events? Well, her voiceover refers to the fact that prayer never brings anyone back from the dead, while focusing on this picture:

So obviously her boyfriend dies. But did she kill him? Why is she in a mental institution? A trip to solitary shows us that she has a particular distaste for a certain song, and her voiceover makes reference to a series of murders, but that's mere hindshadowing - it doesn't outright tells us the story.

No, the subsequent flashback does that. And while it's true that the remainder of the film will be told within flashbacks (and flashbacks within flashbacks), the film isn't competent enough to just go back to the beginning and start telling us the story at this point. Instead, the filmmakers want us to know exactly why Needy is in the insane asylum, so they introduce us to the titular character next, in what's clearly her last scene.

How can we tell this is her last scene? Because our main character is looming at the window, getting ready for murder:

Which gets her thrown in the insane asylum! The only question that remains is 'Why does Needy kill Jennifer?', but since we've already learned that Needy's boyfriend is dead, that question's already been answered: Jennifer killed him. This we know because Hollywood films have taught us that when women have disagreements with other women, it's only ever because of their relationships with men.

With another hundred minutes left in the movie the only question left is 'What happened to Jennifer that led her to kill Needy's boyfriend?' This is not enough of a mystery to build an entire film around. There can be no tension in the relationship between the two main characters because we already know that one is going to be murdering the other, when, and why, likewise we'll never really get attached to the boyfriend character because we know he's not long for this world.

So what's left to discuss, movie? Oh, right - that song Needy hated. What's up with that?

Adam Brody's band plays it 16 minutes into the movie, before abducting Jennifer:

Making the band the reason Jennifer kills Needy's boyfriend.

So now, twenty minutes into the movie, there is literally nothing about the story we don't know. It can safely be turned off, and all you'd be missing is a Lance Henriksen cameo, which I'll reproduce here to save you the trouble.

Jennifer's Body: A new high-water mark in films dedicated whole-heartedly to making watching them unnecessary.

1 comment:

Hannah White said...

Can I just say how much I love you and your blog? I started reading it for the Criminal Minds recaps, which are hilarious. However, I started just going through each post. You're review of this movie is spot on. My ex-boyfriend bought me this movie for Christmas, since he knew how much I love horror movies. Can you guess why he's my ex? Anyways, I just wanted to give praise where praise was due.