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Thursday, March 15, 2012

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 23 - Jawbreaker (1999)

Jawbreaker (1999; Tristar Pictures)
Jawbreaker just might be one of the most disturbed high school films ever.  This isn’t a slasher either.  Jawbreaker is a black comedy, and boy is it dark.  In fact, the mean girls stories we hear from cyber-bullying cases are dwarfed by the sheer vileness of the behavior of the characters in this movie.  The plot of Jawbreaker is founded in the idea that every single character in the plot is a self-serving buffoon that cares more about high school popularity than human life.

The story begins on the eve of a girl’s birthday.  Her friends, led by Courtney (Rose McGowan)  kidnap her as a joke and tape an over-sized jawbreaker into her mouth.  They stuff her into the trunk of a car and drive to the venue of choice.  When they open the trunk they find that the jawbreaker is lodged in the girl’s throat and she is dead.  So what do you do?  You make it look like a rape!  That’s what!  So we get that joke then a girl named Fern (Judy Greer) witnesses their attempted cover-up.  Fern, as it turns out, is not who you would call popular, so Courtney offers her a chance to be part of the in-crowd in return for her silence with the threat of being framed for the girl’s death as an added incentive to keep her mouth shut.  Fern is made over and reborn into Vilette, who turns out to be even more egotistical and vindictive than they would have ever expected.  Still, despite these characters being morons, one of the girl’s strike of conscience, and a cop constantly on the case, nobody manages to put two and two together until the plot says so.

This is a really, really offensive movie.  Teenage girls, the film’s obvious target audience, were apparently not all too fond of the rape jokes and the film barely made back it’s paltry $3 million (est.) budget.  The film was highly pushed by MTV, received prime ad time and even had cameos from some popular rockers including the Donnas and Marilyn Manson (McGowan’s main squeeze at the time... scary, huh?).  This film proved to be too much for people and it was mostly ignored.  It was universally panned by critics, who mostly pointed out the stupidity of the plot and the idiotic behavior of the characters.  I guess it goes without saying that the writer/director of this film never had another major release.  

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