film reel image

film reel image

Sunday, April 14, 2024

What Jennifer Did 2024 * 1/2 Stars


Few documentaries plainly ape TV shows like Dateline and/or 48 hours but here we are with 2024's What Jennifer Did. I mean when the opening few scenes have someone saying "my name is so-and-so and I'm the lead investigator in the case of so-and-so", well it's clear that What Jennifer Did's filmmakers didn't want to come with any novelty. And when said lead investigator also says "I was awoken in the middle of the night just as I was about to fall asleep", well the normality of hackneyed gumshoes just rears its ugly head. "It doesn't make sense". Um, yeah it does. It makes perfect sense. 

So yeah, what exactly was it that Jennifer did? Well real-life Jennifer Pan was an accomplice to murdering her own parents in Markham, Ontario, spurned on by a crocodile-teared 911 call, a lovesick disposition, and lousy interviewing skills (she really should have had her lawyer present). Like I said, What Jennifer Did is like a mediocre version of Dateline, lacking the tension, integrity, and nerve-ending mystery that that show has been giving us as a thirty-plus year fixture on the almighty boob tube. What's worse is that "Jennifer's" director (Jenny Popplewell) laces her film with rather sham cinematography, sham-like confabs, and some cheesy reenactments of stuff like murder rap newscasts and/or interrogation clips (like we wouldn't notice). I mean it's almost as if the true story events in What Jennifer Did didn't actually go down (but hey, you knew they did). 

Distributed by Netflix (what isn't) and clocking in at 87 minutes (gee that feels like the runtime of a certain episode of a certain crime streamer), What Jennifer Did is not so much a docu as it is a declared-in-advance malfeasance caper with a muted conclusion. "Did" more harm than good? Oh you betcha. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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