Jennifer’s Body (2009): Megan Fox’s Star Vehicle

Jennifer’s Body, Fox, Sep 18, 2009

Directed by Karyn Kusama

I have a confession to make: I have vested interest in the career of the gifted indie director Karyn Kusama.  I happen to have reviewed her striking feature debut, “Girlfight,” while I was a senior critic at Variety, out the Sundance Fim Fest, where it won the 2000 Jury Prize for Best Feature and Best Director.

Will Megan Fox Become a Star?

In her first leading role in a major film, Megan Fox was thrust into the limelight of “Transformers,” in 2006, the actioner movie helmed by Michael Bay. “Given that Michael’s name was attached to the script and that it was planned as a summer release, I knew the movie was going to be huge,” Fox says, “I just had no idea how much of a part I was going to play in relation to the whole thing or what I was in for.”

Bay, along with his Platinum Dunes producing partners Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, had originally auditioned Megan Fox for their remake of “The Amityville Horror” (directed by Andrew Douglas). When she returned to Bay’s offices two years later to audition for the role of Mikaela, he saw something beyond her obvious beauty that complemented the character.

“Even though Megan’s relatively new to movies, she’s incredibly poised and confident, and it’s not phony,” said Bay at the time. “I also liked that no one really knew about her, which can be scary when you think about giving such a big part to someone untested, but the pairing with Shia really worked. They had a great energy.”

New Screen Role Model

As Mikaela, the then 20-year-old Megan Fox played the hottest girl in high school, who is not engrossed in the usual girlie interests and pursuits. Instead, she is a thinker who, like Sam, is looking for the next adventure life has to offer.

“She’s from the wrong side of the tracks,” Fox explained. “She’s had a difficult family life and it’s made her tough. But she’s a sweet girl and when Sam is ridiculed by her boyfriend, she sticks up for him and breaks up with her boyfriend over the incident; it’s all very melodramatic.”

“Mikaela’s also a tomboy,” she continued, “she likes to work with cars, and she gets sucked into the whole robot world by accident.

In “Jennifer’s Body,” which Fox will release Sept 18, after receiving its world premiere at the Toronto Film Fest (in the Midnight Madness series), the up-and-coming star Megan Fox (“The Transformers” play a popular but nasty, perhaps even demonic teenager who begins killing off her high school peers. Amanda Seyfried (of “Mamma Mia!” fame) tries to stop her and the Satan-Worshipping Rock Band responsible for some horrible acts. Other actors are cast against type, such as Adam Brody (“In the Land of Women”), as Satanic leader of the rock band?

“Jennifer’s Body” represents the follow-up script by Cody Diablo, who also has a regular column in “E.W.,” to her Oscar-winning scenario for Fox Searchlight smash hit “Juno,” nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

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Based on the premise and trailer, the narrative sounds a bit like “Heathers,” “Mean Girls” and other young femme-driven horror films, but that doesn’t necessarily make it derivative, and besides, most pictures these days sound and look like other pictures..

 

Question is: Will Kusama be able to again impress after stumbling badly with the silly sci-fi “Aeon Flux,” in 2005, starring Charlize Theron as a sexy, rebellious assassin, a sophomore jinx which was a huge artistic and commercial flop?

Verdict is out there:

Kusama has coaxed a career-making performance from Michelle Rodriguez in “Girlfight,” and a bad one from Theron in “Aeon Flux,” right after the thespian won the Best Actress Oscar for “Monster.”

Let’s hope that Kusama will reveal stronger dramatic chops in the sexy Megan Fox that she has shown thus far.