Welcome, people who like to read amateur opinions on things! Since this is my first “review” of sorts, I figured I would start with one of my favorite movies: the cult classic Jawbreaker (1999). *spoilers*
This black comedy follows the “Flawless Four,” a charismatic teen clique composed of Courtney (Rose McGowan), Marcie (Julie Benz), Julie (Rebecca Gayheart), and Elizabeth (Charlotte Ayanna). But just when you suspect you accidentally bought a Disney movie, things go horribly wrong. Courtney convinces Marcie and Julie to “kidnap” Liz for her birthday, and in a freak accident, end up asphyxiating her with a jawbreaker. Within five minutes, a theme emerges from the particular candy. In director Darren Stein’s words, ”The jawbreaker just came to represent the duality of the poppy sweetness of the girls, of high school and of youth, versus the whole idea that this thing could break your jaw” (Maslin). Then, to make matters worse for the three remaining “Flawless Four,” Courtney is spotted by a shy classmate with an unfortunate name and appearance, Fern Mayo (Judy Greer). In order to convince Fern to keep Liz’s death a secret and protect her chances at winning the prom queen title, Courtney does what any clever murderess would do: exploit Fern’s weakness and give her a makeover!
Although this movie can seem like a rip off of the Heathers (1988), it has so much more to offer. First of all, whoever cast this movie was doing something right when they made Rose McGowan the malicious teen queen. If there’s one role she knows how to play, it’s the one that falls somewhere in between seductive and sociopathic. Then, there are her fantastic fashion choices:
I have yet to see any movie scene that incorporates hot pants as well as the one where the new clique members walk in a classic, in sync and slow motioned step to Imperial Teen’s “Yoo Hoo,” all while looking gorgeous yet guilty. The characters’ cotton candy clothing set in the mostly gray halls of some miserable American high school really play off the whole movie’s juxtaposition of sweet and spooky. However, the best scene in this movie is when power-hungry Courtney’s control over her “friends” (and the police force investigating Liz’s homicide) comes crashing down as Julie plays an ominous recording of Courtney’s confession over the loud speaker. Courtney’s response is nothing if not reminiscent of Carrie (1976).
"I killed Liz. I killed the teen dream. Deal with it!"
If you’re interested in a complicated plot with well-rounded characters, perhaps this isn’t the movie for you. But if you’re sick of movies with genuinely good people and are maybe still a little bitter about that popular girl that pushed you around in your teen years, I think you would enjoy the cathartic experience of watching this high school’s hierarchy crumble like a cookie.
-For an added bit of fun to the prom queen’s collapse, the whole dance scene is backed by an appearance from awesome garage rock band The Donnas!
Jawbreaker. Dir. Darren Stein. TriStar Pictures, 1999. Film.
Maslin, Janet (February 19, 1999), “FILM REVIEW; Eye Candy: Teen Queens of Mean”, New York Times (New York, NY)