SO BAD IT’S NETFLIX #23: JENNIFER ON MY MIND

So what if the their Spielberg collection consists of Amistad and Hook? Who cares if the only Altman films they have are Three Women and Ready to Wear? What Netflix does have in abundance is garbage. It’s time to surrender and celebrate it. This isn’t so bad it’s good… this is so bad it’s Netflix. 

JENNIFER ON MY MIND (1971)

 

1971’s Panic in Needle Park (also streaming on Netflix) features Al Pacino’s first starring role and it’s one of the first films to take heroin addiction seriously. Done in a stark, docudrama style, Panic chronicles a young NYC couple succumbing to the junkie lifestyle. In that same year, a film about heroin that couldn’t be less concerned with reality was put out quietly, called Jennifer On My Mind, written by Erich Segal, who was just coming off writing the mega-hit romantic weepy, Love Story.

Drunk with ambition post-Love Story, Segal wrote another goofy tale of doomed young love, except this time instead of movie cancer, our heroine dies of heroin. Alas, Jennifer is a dope story written by someone who’s never inhaled.

Let’s go to the So Bad It’s Bullet Points!

  • WHO’S THE WEALTHIEST DIPSHIT?

 

Young Marcus’ grandfather came over from the old country at the turn of the century and made a fortune. Something tells me that grandpa, now deceased, would never approve of Marcus squandering the family fortune by jumping from country to country and just plain chillin’ out. Marcus meets his moneyed match in Jennifer, a wealthy, blue-blooded, scrawny blond nothing of a girl who makes Joni Mitchell look like Jayne Mansfield. Which character shall will win our affections and sympathy? Neither. Mr. Segal assumes a lot with Jennifer, thinking that we’ll care about these privileged assholes. Sure, Marcus can offer her a globe-hopping life of leisure but Jennifer is not impressed; she’s in love with getting high and nothing else. But, oh, there’s nothing more attractive than a gal who loves to almost jump from high places to her death, am I right?

 

  • DID HE DO IT? NOT REALLY.

Told in an unwieldy, non-chronological style, to say Jennifer has a slight tonal problem would be like saying Israel has a slight location problem. We are told right at the start that Marcus has somehow killed Jennifer and we literally watch him try to ditch the body for the rest of the movie as flashbacks of their non-starter relationship are interspersed.

 

Sure, Marcus gives a blood-curdling wail when he holds Jennifer’s lifeless torso, but aside from that show of emotion, our hero acts as if getting rid of his dead girlfriend is nothing but a slightly amusing pain in the ass. We don’t find out til the very end that Marcus administered an overdose of dope to Jennifer, but only at her screaming insistence. In other words, her death was an accident, Marcus is not a murderer, and he probably would have avoided jail time if he just reported it in the first place.

 

Even while in her death throes, ya wanna just strangle stupid Jennifer. In the finale, after Marcus pulls her off his balcony ledge, she screams for another shot of junk. However, she phrases it like this: “My heroin! Get the heroin! More heroin!” Here, Erich Segal tells the world he barely knows what heroin is. First of all, this drug-addled waif would never have the energy to pronounce a three syllable word such as “heroin.” What’s wrong with “Gimme the skag! The shit! The dope!?”

  • MARCUS, THE WEIRDEST RUNNER IN NEW YORK CITY

 

  • DENIRO, UNFORTUNATELY

 

Poor Bobby D gets mixed up in this mess, playing a stoned taxi driver. When Marcus asks to be driven to Oyster Bay, Deniro demands instead that he and Marcus go hang out and get high. Deniro then warns Marcus that he’s very high and shouldn’t be driving. This guy’s Uber career would be dead in the water today. You can tell from Jennifer that in 1971, the world’s tolerance for hippies is running thin; this movie hates them with a passion. Either the hippies are destroying the taxicab industry, brandishing acoustic guitars and screaming shit songs in your ear, turning you on to heroin or outright attacking you on the highway.

 

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NEXT WEEK: GOD TAKES HIM/HERSELF ON: LEFT BEHIND (2000) VS. LEFT BEHIND (2014)