1999; Rated R; 87 Minutes
Rose McGowan: Courtney Shayne
Rebecca Gayheart: Julie Freeman
Julie Benz: Marcie Fox
Judy Greer: Fern Mayo (Vylette)
Chad Christ: Zack Tartak
Produced by Thom
Colwell, Stacy Kramer and Lisa Tornel; Directed and screenwritten
by Darren Stein
by DAVID KEYES
is the kind of film that makes you want to kidnap the director
and lock him in a trunk, bound and gagged, so he doesn't
make any more movies like this. Actually, you could do numerous
things to a director like this, but I choose to bring up
the kidnapping scenario because its an element contained
in his movie, supposedly a 'comedy.' Three girls decide
to play a practical joke on a friend for her birthday, tying
her up and putting a jawbreaker in her mouth, with duct
tape over it. When they open up the trunk to take her out,
they discover that their prank has gone beyond extremes.
The girl is dead, with that large jawbreaker jammed in her
type of 'comedy' gives me the creeps. Its what you call
'black,' or 'dark' humor, in which the filmmakers portray
their sense of drollness through a series of elements that
are either earnest or somber. For example, last year in
"Very Bad Things," the characters covered up a series of
murders by cutting up bodies and then burying them into
the desert. Those things aren't funny, and though "Very
Bad Things" is ten times worse than "Jawbreaker," both films
have a similar setup that is undeserving of human viewers.
film stars Rose McGowan, as a snobbish popular high school
girl whose backbone is just about as strong as tinsel. When
she and two of her friends kidnap the innocent birthday
girl and accidentally kill her, they (you guessed it) try
to cover up the murder with some sick plan. If they can
make the whole thing look like a rape death, then that would
put an end to the speculation of foul play.
the girls are discovered in their attempt to cover up their
crime by a nerd named Fern, played somewhat effectively
by Judy Greer. To buy her silence, though, sneaky Courtney
offers to turn her into a 'silk purse,' so to speak. Hours
of cosmetics and costumes later, Fern becomes Vylette, the
newest sensation at school.
the movies approach really has nothing to do with how these
girls operate. We never get to know why they're shallow,
or why they're so dang conceited. Instead, the movie takes
a "Very Bad Things" approach with the opportunity to cover
up the horrendous crimes these girls have committed. In
between, on the sidelines, are jokes that are either gross
or just lame-brained. One of the sickest takes place in
the school cafeteria, while one of the most dimwitted occurs
when a person actually gets high off of her own corsage.
Geez, we knew that black comedies could get away with lots
of things, but is that something worth getting away with?
movie's plot and characters are mean-spirited and uninspired,
which is a shame, because the movie gets some fairly good
recognition for its performance by Rose McGowan. The last
time I saw her, she was a strawberry blonde in "Scream."
Here, she has Raven-colored hair, pale skin and a physique
that she is obviously proud of. Late last year, arriving
with her boyfriend Marilyn Manson (who has a cameo is "Jawbreaker")
at the MTV Video Music Awards, her almost nonexistent outfit
got quite a bit of attention as she strove down that red
carpet. She got the attention here, as she does in this
movie, some of it more deserving than other parts.
I do not know what influenced any person to make this cruel
movie, nor do I care, for the sake of my own sanity. There
are times when, yes, a good black comedy comes along (last
year, two of the best were "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas"
and "Your Friends & Neighbors"), but seldom do they achieve
a recognizable status. Depending on the humor's purpose
and tone, filmmakers can work wonders with the audience.
Oh, but for "Jawbreaker," the humor's only real purpose
is to make people feel like dirt. Choking on a jawbreaker
might have been less painful.
again, the filmmakers have probably already done that.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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