97 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, February 19, 1999
Written & directed by Darren Stein
Starring Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Julie Benz, Judy Evans Greer, Charlotte Roldan, Pam Grier & Carol Kane
Cameos: Marilyn Manson, The Donnas
SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 10%|
LETTERBOX: NOT NECESSARY
A pretender to the "Heathers" cult movie crown, this movie was designed with video in mind. You're supposed to watch it when you're 17 and getting wasted at somebody's house when their parents aren't home. But even under those circtumstances, it's still crap.
Teen murder satire crosses the line playing rape for laughs
Like the recent teen flick mishap "She's All That," "Jawbreaker" is another one of those high school movies that presumes a nerd's wildest dream is be to become shallow and popular, and that said nerd would do just about anything -- even become an accessory to murder -- to see that dream come true.
The premise here is that when a SoCal teen wallflower (Judy Evans Greer) stumbles on the campus vanity princess squad covering up their accidental murder of another popular girl, the cold-blooded triad buy her silence with a make-over and an introduction into their clique.
Marketed as satire, "Jawbreaker" steps way over the line when the lipstick doll leader of the pack (Rose McGowan, "Phantoms") makes the virginal girl's death look like a rape and murder. She frames stranger (shock rocker and McGowan squeeze Marilyn Manson) by having sex with him in the victim's bed before her parents come home to discover their lifeless daughter.
In addition to having a questionable sense of humor, writer-director Darren Stein ignores even the most elementary, common knowledge precepts of forensic medicine (a simple autopsy would quickly unravel this frame up) in favor of trying to turn clique lieutenant Rebecca Gayheart ("Urban Legend") into a meek heroine by writing for her a change of heart and wardrobe (the costume designer should have been the murder victim), which leads to the most preposterous of prom-embarrassment finales, a shameless, role-reversal rip-off of "Carrie." (The movie's one saving grace: The smokin' hot Marin County grrrl group The Donnas plays the prom band.)
Daring to posturing itself as a neo-"Heathers," this movie aims much, much lower and comes off looking like Stein wrote the script after eating something that didn't agree with him and watching a triple feature of "Clueless," "Seven," and "Caged Heat."
Too dark to be funny and plagued by abyss-sized holes in the plot, slavish dialogue ("Some of the sweetest candies are like death inside.") and sketch-quality acting, "Jawbreaker" is a 15 minute idea stretched into a feature film, and the stretch marks can't be hidden as the film often sits still for 20 minutes at a time.
In a perfect world, TriStar studio execs would lose their jobs over this calamity. In the real world, it will probably be a huge hit (like "She's All That" was), and serve as further evidence that far too many people are sheep and will flock to anything advertised on MTV.