Year Released: 1999
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 85 minutes
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My high school NEVER had uber-babes like the four beauties who rule Ronald Reagan High in “Jawbreaker”, and I bet yours didn’t either. Perfect bodies, perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect clothes… did I mention perfect skin? Courtney (Rose McGowan), Marcy (Julie Benz), Julie (Rebecca Gayheart) and Liz patrol the hallways like a Cosmopolitan version of Wyatt Earp’s posse; icy, unapproachable and utterly in control.
Until the morning of Liz’ 17th birthday, that is, when her pals, stage a mock kidnapping. They tie up the birthday girl, gag her with a pool ball-sized jawbreaker candy, and throw her in the trunk of Courtney’s car. Imagine their surprise when they gleefully open the trunk… and discover that their guest of honor is dead, the ill-advised jawbreaker lodged in her throat. Like, oh, m’god! How totally uncool!
Courtney’s planned cover-up — make it look like a rape/murder — seems to be working until she discovers that Fern Mayo (Judy Evans Greer), Reagan’s resident mousy female nerd, has accidentally overheard the truth. Courtney offers Fern a deal: Keep her mouth shut and Courtney and the gang will transform Fern into the ultra-fine “Violette,” a replacement fourth to fill in for the late Liz.
Death and comedy rarely mix, and this tedious and painfully un-funny effort by director Darren Stein is no exception. In fact, what follows this set-up is even more trite, improbable and predictable. Julie grows a conscience and a boyfriend and tries to pull Fern/Violette back from the abyss. Fern, drunk on her newfound popularity, carelessly forgets that “Violette” is an illusion and crosses Courtney, who goes psycho in her attempts to sustain the cover-up. It all comes crashing down, of course, at the mandatory climactic Prom Scene. I’m sorry, but hunky thirtysomethings in letter jackets and post-college babes speaking like Valley Girls no longer passes as high school. “Jawbreaker” felt more like a sophomorically written (sorry, couldn’t resist) Beverly Hills 90210 episode; earnestly over-acted and always lit as bright and colorful as a Bangles video.
As there were only two other people in the theater who, like me, wasted 87 minutes of our lives that we’ll never get back, I’d guess that this “Jawbreaker”, unlike its confectionery counterpart, won’t last very long.
Posted on March 1, 1999 in Reviews by Merle Bertrand
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