Title: JawbreakerDirector: Darren Stein
Starring: Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Julie Benz, Judy Greer, Ethan Erickson, Carol Kane, Pam Grier, Charlotte Ayanna, Chad Christ, Marilyn Manson
Plot: The Flawless Four” are the most popular and beautiful girls at Reagan High School, but when their leader Liz (Ayanna) is accidently killed by her fellow group members, the group are forced to recruit outcast Fern (Greer) after she stumbles across their attempts to cover up the murder. However it’s not long before their simple plan soon starts to spiral out of control.
Review: Another film from that golden year for cinema 1999, which it seems was also a golden year for teen comedies aswell, with American Pie, Go and South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut all being released the same year as this film which didn’t get a big release on these rain soaked shores, but at the same time watching it now does comes with that lovely wave of nostalgia that 90’s movies tend to come with, while generally reminding me of how badly teen comedies tend to suck these days.
A black comedy in a similar vein as “Heathers” and one whose tone is established within the opening ten minutes as a seemingly harmless kidnapping prank goes horribly wrong, while at the same time making you question if it is possible to actually swallow a jawbreaker which it would seem that director Darren Stein believes to be possible judging by how Liz is left comically looking like a snake trying to swallow an ostrich egg. This dark humour though is truly carried by McGowan who is queen bitch duties as the ruthless Courtney while being constantly supported by her right hand girl Marcie (Benz) who shares Courtney’s believe that power and respect is gained via maintaining via terrorising their fellow students.
While the film would have worked well enough as a dark comedic thriller with the remaining three members of the flawless four covering up their murder of their fourth member. More so when group member Julie (Gayheart) breaks away from the guilt she feels from her part in Liz’s death, an angle which could have been further worked with her being paranoid that Courtney and Marcie might attempt to silence her. However instead we get her trying to change sides and integrating herself into the general student populous when prior to murdering one of her best friends she couldn’t have cared less about them, but hey this is nothing that a new dull as dishwater boyfriend with a Hanson haircut can’t solve, a role played here by Zack (Christ) who would be more forgettable if he wasn’t being forced on us like Stein felt this character was more likable than he is.Stein at the same time clearly felt that the murder cover up plot wasn’t enough to hold the audiences interest and as such attempts to cram in the second plot line of Fern being brought into the group and remodelled in their image as they rebrand her as exchange student Vylette only to soon find their creation going rogue on them as her new found status goes to her head. It’s a plotline which doesn’t really do anything for the most part bar the occasional bit of amusing correction from Courtney and Marcie.
Another aspect which helps the murder cover up part of the story is Pam Grier’s appearance as the investigating detective, even if she randomly disappeared from the film a lot sooner than I would have like. On the positive side she manages to show her usual kickass side with a great monologue about jawbreakers, which she also uses as her weapon of intimidation while trying to extract information from the almost unflappable Courtney, who ultimately provides the downfall moment for Grier’s character who until this point had been shown as a tough and take no nonsense, yet she believes unquestionably the ropey story that Courtney spins her which leads to the arrest of a seemingly innocent man (here played by an unrecognisable Marilyn Manson).
My main gripe though with the film is that we never get any punishment for any member of the guilty party, even though it would seem at the finale that Courtney has been marked to take the fall for the trio, but even she doesn’t get arrested when the school find out what she did in possibly the most cliché way possible. Still the only punishment she seems to receive is to be bombarded with corsages and abuse. That’s right folks she committed murder and her punishment is to have flowers thrown at her! As such this leaves you with the general feeling that getting away with murder is fine as long as you have the right scapegoat.
A flawed film but one that still makes for a fun watch as long as you’re not questioning some of the plot mechanics, while Rose McGowan’s delightfully dark performance alone makes this a worthwhile experience especially when she is seemingly willing to do anything to get away with what she has done regardless of who gets burned in her way and perhaps for that fact alone this makes this film yet another great addition to the golden cinema year of 1999.