The disappointing $6.8 million opening weekend for Jennifer’s Body serves as yet another reminder that there’s still a big difference between being an international sex symbol and being someone people will shell out $12.50 to see on the big screen for 90 minutes. Megan Fox learned that lesson the hard way this weekend, which means she’ll probably have to go back to washing cars for Michael Bay before studios will try to sell another picture on her name recognition alone. We caught a matinee screening of Jennifer’s Body over the weekend and, while we’ll gladly concede that it was no Drag Me to Hell, we felt it was a fairly serviceable horror-comedy. And, as we have come to expect from Oscar-winning scribe Diablo Cody, the screenplay had more than its fair share of potential catchphrases and zesty pop-culture references embedded in it. Speaking of the latter, there was one scene in the film that was notable for its willingness to mine not one but two recent American tragedies for some (somewhat uncomfortable) laughs.
Early on in the film, the titular Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) and Anita “Needy” Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) head to a crappy townie bar called the Carousel to catch a performance by a popular (and strikingly Killers-esque) band called Low Shoulder. You see, Low Shoulder has come to the small town of Devil’s Kettle in order to find a virgin that they can sacrifice in the name of Satan. The lead singer of the band, Nikolai Wolf (Adam Brody), quickly spots Jennifer in the crowd, who is both willing and able to go along with the band. In order to win Nikolai’s favor, Jennifer decides to buy the Brandon Flowers wannabe a red, white, and blue “9/11 tribute shooter,” one that comes served in two tall shot glasses styled to resemble the Twin Towers.
Now, Jennifer’s Body is hardly the first film to make either an explicit or implicit reference to the events of 9/11, so it’s not like we need to take Cody or director Karyn Kusama to task for being the first filmmakers to make light of that terrible event. However, this moment was still fresh in our minds when, just a few minutes later, the dingy, small-town club begins to catch fire during Low Shoulder’s performance. The fire quickly rips through the club, and a number of people visibly perish while the band performs their hit song, “Through The Trees” (which, btw, is the “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)” of this film). Obviously, this scene is a not-at-all subtle reference to the tragic events of February 20, 2003, when 100 people were killed after a fire ripped through a dingy rock club in Rhode Island during a Great White concert.
As we mentioned above, we’re not about to play the “Too soon!” card and condemn Cody and Kusama for their creative decision to cram two explicit references to recent(ish) American tragedies into one scene for a few laughs. It’s not as if she crassly made fun of specific details that occurred during those specific events; rather, Cody mined pieces of those events that have made their way into the greater pop-culture consciousness for expositional purposes (albeit, in a way that’s intentionally edgy). That said, we would’ve been more supportive of this attempt to stoke the fires of controversy had the film been able to successfully mimic the satirical vibe that Heathers unquestionably nailed. It’s not for lack of trying, though: Cody and Kusama put plenty of scenes of high-school teachers suspiciously being overcome by emotion in the presence of their students, and there’s also the fact that the student body bonds over Low Shoulder’s crappy exploitative ballad. However, the final product never comes close to matching its inspirational predecessor in tone.
What did you think, VultureWatchers? Did you even see Jennifer’s Body? If no, why not? If so, what did you think of this scene? Did you catch the references and were you okay with them? You know where to sound off!
Jennifer’s Body [DocStoc]
P.S.: Cody also managed to slip another 9/11 reference into her screenplay in a moment that happens near the film’s eventual conclusion. We probably would not have thought to tie the usage of box cutters during the film’s climax to the events of 9/11 had the incident we described above not happened, but then again, it did.