Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jennifer's Body: Is 40 Really the New 20?

"Just remember, you're still younger than Jennifer Aniston."

And with those words, my friend Mara comforts me every year on my birthday, citing Aniston because she looks so great, and she's three months older than I am.

I've always had a bit of a love-hate thing with her, and not just as in I love her and I hate her because she's beautiful. I loved her on Friends, but I hated how, as she made the transition from the small screen to the big one, she never seemed to get Rachel Green out of her system. I've seen more of her movies than I'm comfortable admitting, and although I don't think they were all so terrible, she always does that thing that "former" sitcom stars always do: She bends over backward and forward and backward again to get us to like her.

As a result, her performances are mostly slight variations on a theme. If you took Aniston's character from The Switch and, um, switched her with the one from The Break-Up, would the movies really change much? Wasn't her adulterer in The Good Girl basically Rachel Green in low-budget clothing? (And why do so many of her films begin with the same article?)

Then there is her oversexed bitch-on-heels dentist in Horrible Bosses, which I finally watched on DVD the other day. Even more surprising than how much I enjoyed the movie was how much I loved Aniston as a brunette. I'm not sure if the darker hue was supposed to make the character less likable, or if it was supposed to inspire the actress to commit to Dr. Julia Harris's evil ways. Whichever was the case, it worked.

She wasn't exactly cast against type -- despite all of Dr. Harris's sexual scheming, Aniston was still playing bad for laughs, unlike, say, Charlize Theron in Monster -- but she was no less un-threatening than Colin Farrell with a paunch and a comb-over. (Kevin Spacey, the third horrible boss, was much scarier, but then he's a two-time Oscar winner who played a serial killer in Se7en.) I loved to hate Dr. Harris, but I also sort of wanted her as much as Jason Sudeikis's character did.

Was that a twinge of jealousy I felt when he hooked up with her? I know, it's just a movie, and I probably wouldn't have slept with her if I had the chance, but as Dr. Harris tried seducing her assistant (Charlie Day) with her coat open to reveal the entire middle-third of Aniston's torso, I gasped. That's what 42 looks like? Is she aging backwards like her ex did in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button? Did she look that good when she was married to Brad Pitt? Why did he even give Angelina Jolie a second glance then? (Oh yeah, men are pigs -- but that's another post!)

Maybe I was distracted by her perfectly toned body (as shallow as it sounds -- and like all males, gay and straight, I have my moments), but it was the first time I've seen an Aniston movie and not heard the Friends theme in my head. That's a miracle and a blessing rolled into one, sort of like Jennifer's body.
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