The Case For Megan Fox, Actress
A little while back, I advanced the idea that seeing Megan Fox act might ruin the image I had of her as a delightful, quotable ingenue with a sense of humor. At the time, I was yet to see the new Transformers movie -- or any Megan Fox film at all, few as there have been -- and when I finally did, my worst fears were realized. Her tinny voice was lost amidst the explosions, her ass was given more screen time than her face, and when she was sharing a shot with another actor yet had no dialogue herself (a frequent situation), she appeared dead-eyed, like she'd already mentally checked out of the scene.
All this is to say that I didn't expect to find myself writing a defense of Megan Fox's acting abilities just two short months later.
I've seen Jennifer's Body, and while I'm not at liberty to review the film yet, I can safely say that it at least reverses my opinion of Fox's cinematic talents -- and, I'm betting, the opinion of many others. Sure, there will always be people who instinctively lay into Fox as a pretty face who can't act, but after the film is released two weeks from now, at least she'll finally have her defenders.
It's a great role for Fox in many ways, not least of which is because it's an actual role: Rather than merely serving as eye candy, Fox is given a range of things to do and she nails them. What makes the part of Jennifer Check an even better fit for Fox, though, is that it tweaks her eye candy image about as often as Fox herself does in the press. Playing a popular hottie with some unexpected bite is second nature to the actress; just listen as Fox compares Michael Bay to Hitler, and tell me it's not as deliciously vicious as watching beautiful Jennifer grow fangs to feast on an unsuspecting emo kid.
Finally, that comic timing that comes through on the magazine page is given script pages that can utilize it. As Jennifer, Fox is snappy and clever, and her thin voice provides an interesting counterpoint to the unmistakably muscular voice of Jennifer's writer, Diablo Cody. In the wrong hands (and sometimes even the right ones, like Rainn Wilson's in Juno), there's a danger that Cody's carefully crafted comebacks can feel overdeliberate, but to hear them casually deadpanned by Fox gives the proceedings a quirky jolt. Other actresses would have used those lines to chew the scenery, but Fox effectively plays against them, and when things turn serious or unexpectedly emotional, she pops even more.
Will Fox have a chance to flex these newfound muscles in other films? I'm gonna be brutally honest: probably not. Her presence is too contemporary to earn her the same sort of roles as Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, and unlike her oft-mentioned predecessor Angelina Jolie (who avidly throws herself into each part), Fox always possesses a certain degree of cool remove on-screen -- it's practically her shtick.
Still, here's hoping that from time to time, a smart talent will take a chance on Fox and rescue her from a career of being the hot girl in Adam Sandler comedies. Certainly, Jennifer's Body will prove that she's capable of more than she's given credit for, but her blank "who gives a fuck" line readings in the Transformers franchise may indicate that's it up to each director to tap into that. If Michael Bay is Hitler, then, Jennifer's Body director Karyn Kusama must be Winston Churchill.