This weekend, I didn’t see the number one movie at the US Box Office. That belongs to Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, the new 3D animated family film from the creators of the VASTLY UNDER-RATED “Clone High” that only aired for one season from 2002-2003.
The Informant!, my review pick for the weekend, slid into second place with $10.5 million, vastly less than Cloudy’s $30.1. Love Happens, the release this weekend that gave away both the moral and the ending to the film in the title, slid in above Jennifer’s Body, which, with only $6,8 million over the weekend, has already been labeled a bomb.
Though I’m starting to wonder…
Rotten Tomatoes currently has Jennifer’s Body at a 42% Fresh rating, which isn’t horrible until you realize that Love Happens beat it at the box office with an 18% rating. That means critical response wasn’t necessarily the motivating factor in Jennifer’s Body taking a dive.
It’s a times like this I’m glad I have female friends who are also into film, because two of my colleagues have a take on Jennifer’s Body that is sounding scarily accurate. Take Vic (a guy) from ScreenRant, who put some data together about Jennifer’s Body reviews based on gender:
Male movie reviewers: 39% liked it, 61% disliked it.
Female movie reviewers: 54% liked it, 46% disliked it.
That at least spells out a mediocre movie amongst women, but the men reacting so differently to it is a little disconcerting. So let’s check with the women!
ScarletScribe, who also writes at Latino Review sets the stage:
Jennifer’s Body is dead at the box office — or so it seems after this opening weekend. And there are a couple of likely contributing factors: 1. that it opened against a fantastic children’s film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. that it’s battling against people’s cumulative hate/dislike of one of the stars, Megan Fox, and 3. that a lot of the reviewers just don’t understand the film.
And why don’t they understand the film? Because it’s one of the very few honest-to-goodness feminist films out there — and more so then being feminist, it’s one of the few films that views things from a female lens. Boys are there, and make up the majority of the victims in this body horror film, but they’re not a concern. For once we have a story with female main characters who aren’t obsessing about, fighting over, or bitching about boys every five minutes. Jennifer’s Body is about women and how they relate to each other, the horror moments are there for style and allegory, but at its heart the movie is about two girls whose own toxic friendship is eating them both alive.
Picking up from there is Annalee Newitz from io9:
This is a movie about female wrath. And it’s not the clean, sympathetic wrath we saw in Thelma and Louise; it’s not the trampy blankness we wanked over in Species. It’s ugly, wrong, powerful wrath. The kind that builds empires and destroys towns. And men are irrelevant to this wrath, in the same way Jennifer’s life was irrelevant to the guys in Low Shoulder who murdered her.
There’s something deeply subversive about a movie that says women are angry, but not at men. Women have enough power now that men are hardly the issue. Now, we’ve got something to work out among ourselves.
I’m not sure what people are expecting when they go to see a movie like Jennifer’s Body, but based on early negative reviews I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this. All I can assume is that they expected something really highbrow, based on the fact that it was penned by “I have a vocab” writer Diablo Cody. Or maybe they thought it would just be long scenes of Megan Fox’s tits, which would also be a letdown, since there are no tits.
Piling on is EruditeChick from All Things Fan Girl:
Case in point, the necklace moment. A trinket that holds no power other than what it represents to the girls, the act of its removal shocks Jennifer out of her attack, and undoes her. A BFF necklace. They probably got them at Claire’s. When they were ten. But in the world of the film, it is a mystical amulet, as powerful as the knife used in Jennifer’s murder or the words spoken over her before the act. Most of the men I’ve heard talk about the film mention that moment in particular as being cringe-worthy and corny, and most of all bizarre. I have not yet spoken to a girl for whom that scene did not resonate, didn’t hit something deep in them. Even if you never had one of those necklaces, you know what it means, the way you know what BFF can mean. A best friend is frequently not a ‘best friend’. They’re someone you’re tied to, through whatever events, and remain tied to, for whatever reason. When you’re friends with someone long enough, someone you don’t really necessarily like, but who you’ve nonetheless spent that much time with, your relationship becomes about domination and submission, finding, testing and expanding your boundaries, exerting your will and desires over someone else. This all sounds very dark, but it can be as basic as using someone to make you look better at a club (as Needy describes at the beginning of the movie), or using someone as nothing but a sounding board for you to talk about your life, your needs, your self about, completely disregarding and not caring about the other person’s life or what they have to say. Someone to keep around to assert yourself over. Find me a girl who hasn’t been on either end of this, and I’ll show you a robot or an alien.
I don’t know if these reactions mean that Jennifer’s Body is good or if it just means that it was grossly mis-marketed and suffered from Megan Fox’s PR gravity that manages to make everything about her tits (which I’m fine with, for the record). But, I do know that the rants and reviews I have read from cinephile women I respect all lining up like this gave me pause.
I guess I should check out Jennifer’s Body? At least so I have something to talk about with the opposite sex.