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Many modern movies tend to go for style over substance. They rely heavily on a hip attitude and a soundtrack full of smash artists to bring people into the theater, but forget that good movies have a quality screenplay and talented actors. Once in a while, you run across a movie that combines all the elements and stands out from the crowd. Jawbreaker successfully combines a solid screenplay, hip and talented actors, a stylish look and a fantastic soundtrack to create an irreverent, entertaining, tongue-in-cheek dark comedy.
Courtney (Rose McGowan), Foxy (Julie Benz), Liz (Charlotte Ayanna) and Julie (Rebecca Geyhart) rule the school. These four teenage girls form the school's most envied and hated quartet. They strut down the halls, demand respect and terrorize the school's less popular students.
Courtney quietly envies Liz. Courtney rules by fear, but Liz is loved by her fellow students for her kindness and good nature. She has earned the love and respect of some of the school's less popular students, especially Fern Mayo (Judy Green). However, Liz still remains a part of the group because being popular is too important.
To celebrate Liz's birthday, the other three girls decide to stage a fake kidnapping of her as a joke. Unfortunately, Liz suffocates on a jawbreaker stuffed in her mouth to keep her from screaming. Since Liz's parents are on vacation for just one more day, the trio has only 24 hours to figure out how to cover it up.
Courtney takes charge and comes up with a strategy, but the plan is foiled when Fern stumbles across the crime scene. In order to buy her silence, Courtney convinces Fern that she change her from an ugly duckling into a sexy, desired woman. When Fern becomes a monster, Julie's conscience gets the best of her and Courtney attempts to reassert her control over the group, can the secret be kept?
Writer/Director Darren Stein creates a wonderfully stylish movie. He dresses the characters in bright, bold, almost neon colors that jump off the screen. He uses these same colors for sets and props. Stein combines this color scheme with great use of slow motion shots and a driving soundtrack that draws on alternative rock, eighties pop and even some fifties doo-wop to form a visually and aurally stunning movie. The plot has some great twists and will leave you laughing.
Stein also delves into an interesting examination of how children change when they grow into teenagers. Many of the nerds and cool kids used to be friends in grade school, but as they grow and fall into the social structure of high school, they deny previous friendships and experiences. Some of the most interesting scenes are with Geyheart and Green sadly reminiscing over a past friendship that has fallen by the wayside. Even Green's character is representative of this behavior as she denies her entire identity once she becomes cool.
Rose McGowan is clearly the star of this film. She explodes off the screen. McGowan understands that the character is over the top and playfully relishes in her character's evilness. Her scheming and use of her own sexuality provide some of the most entertaining moments in the film. Her explanation of the cool rules will shock you with their silliness, and sadden you when you realize that many teenagers really think this way.
In February of 1999, Jawbreaker opened in a very limited release of just 800 theaters. In only three weeks in release, the movie grossed over $3 Million for SONY. It suffered some backlash from reviewers who compared it to a similar 80's movie, Heathers. Many reviewers also put too much focus on the Marylin Manson connection. He is Rose McGowan's fiancée, and makes a brief, but anonymous unless you are looking for it, cameo appearance.
The movie is a great rental for those who are a little younger and enjoy a dark comedy. If you think your high school experience was tough, rent Jawbreaker and compare.
Writer and Director: Daniel Stein
Rose McGowan Courtney
Judy Green Fern Mayo
Rebecca Geyheart .Julie
Julie Benz . Marcy "Foxy" Fox
Charlotte Ayanna . Liz
Carol Kane .. Miss Sherwood
Chad Crist .Zack
Ethan Erickson .. Dane
Pam Grier ..Vera Cruz
Copyright 1999 - WaffleMovies.com