Never has a movie so wanted to be a movie it wasn’t. Jawbreaker wishes more than anything that it could be Heathers. Sometimes it wants to be Clueless. Strangely, I think it even wanted to be Grease. Instead, Jawbreaker is a Frankenstein of better high school movies, unable to commit to being utterly wicked, and unable to keep its tongue in cheek. Much like the main character’s outfits, Jawbreaker is anti-subtle.
The movie opens with the three mega-princesses of Ronald Reagan High School (see, it’s already not funny) kidnapping their best friend, Liz Purr, and accidentally killing her. Not a bad premise, but that scene only lasts about five minutes. The girls, led by the naughty Courtney Shayne (Rose McGowan, looking a lot more like an evil grad student than a teenager), proceed to badly cover up their crime. The plot (I think I detected one) relies heavily on the audience’s ability to suspend disbelief, or be brain dead. The other two miniskirt wearing leads, Julie Benz as Marcie Fox (whoever dreamed up the names for these girls has clearly spent some time at strip clubs) and Rebecca Gayheart as Julie Freeman, split into opposite emotional camps after seeing their friend dead in a car trunk. Julie is as close to a sympathetic character as we get, and given her involvement in the murder, she’s not exactly likable. There’s the requisite girl who gets a makeover, Fern Mayo (Judy Greer), changing her name to Vylette, but wearing pink. There are a couple of male characters that interest/repulse the girls, but they’re even more thinly drawn. Carol Kane plays Miss. Sherwood, the requisite inept adult character, in a perpetual hissy fit over the students’ behavior. I couldn’t wait for the scenes with Miss. Sherwood in them to be over.
Without a doubt one of the worst movies of 1999, Jawbreaker could be studied in film school as a perfect example of the unfortunate results of mixing genres. Poorly written, poorly directed, and, with the exception of the scenery chewing Rose McGowan, poorly acted, Jawbreaker comes across as half-assed. It takes a promising idea and dilutes it into something messy, devoid of flavor and interest.
+ David Kern