Out of the gate, let me say that I don't think Diablo Cody is a great talent, nor did I think Juno was a great movie with a great screenplay hanging off its belt. So, perhaps it was that already present low regard for Cody - going into her first film post-Academy Award - that aided me in appreciating Jennifer's Body more than somebody who considered its writer to be a mix of J.D. Salinger and Kurt Cobain.
But that's unfair. To say Diablo Cody isn't a "great talent" doesn't mean that she's talentless. She ain't. Cody has an ear for the quirky-cutesy ("I can see your front butt" is both fun and cadence friendly), and while it's true that that can produce lines which are two years past their too clever expiration date (Jennifer telling a friend to "MoveOn.org already!" and a stale truth-in-Wikipedia reference), it's also the perfect type of verbiage to elevate a trashy horror flick. A crap film like Sorority Row might have been half-decent crap with lines like "Where's it at, Monistat?" or "I just bought Aquamarine on DVD. It's a about a girl who's half sushi. She must get f*cked in her blow hole".
You see, Diablo Cody isn't a good screenwriter, she's an adept scribbler of quips. Movie culture's lowered bar for what passes as good screenwriting, directing, acting, etc. has devolved to a point where many people don't know what good is anymore. If something feels "fresh", feels "new", or feels "cool", then it may very possibly pass quality tests on those superficial merits alone. Take The Blair Witch Project, for instance. Yep, it was fun, but ten years down the road it only makes sense to talk about it as an interesting stunt, not a film that invites studied, respectable second viewings. If you say "yes it does", then explain to me why its makers haven't produced anything substantial since?
Granted, some of my applause for Jennifer's Body ("cool, trashy fun") can come off as surface praise in itself, but I would argue that my appreciation is more concrete. Yes, Jennifer's Body, at its core, is an empty piece of work, but what Cody, director Karyn Kusama, and actors Amanda Seyfried, Megan Fox, and Adam Brody have done, is taken a regularly rusty sub-genre and greased it up a bit. Where Ellen Page's portrayal of a Cody-youth ached to be so genuine that it screamed "phony!", Megan Fox embraces the idea of high school caricature. If Page and Fox represent opposite ends of the young actress spectrum, then Cody needs to keep her pen flowing from the mouth of Fox. That snarky dialogue is nastier fun when it comes from the lips of a vamp, not the pout of a scamp.
Jennifer's Body's hidden advantage is that each of its main members know how to step up when another is slumping. Adam Brody's scene-stealing serves as suitable filler in moments that ordinarily would be dull. Karyn Kusama's ambitious bag of visual gags can confuse, but they also provide a rock n' roll rhythm. Amanda Seyfriend - with eyes that reveal an experience wiser than her age - gives more than the subject matters deserves and grounds the film with her professionalism. And yes, in the end, I give Diablo Cody the blue ribbon. No, I'm far from sold on her stature (which isn't her fault, mind you), but I think it could be interesting if she wrote Saw VII.