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Jawbreaker (1999)

Written and Directed by Darren Stein

  It makes so much more sense that I would love this film in my youth after viewing with the commentary. While Darren Stein had initially intended for the film to solely be Horror, it ended up being a great homage to films I equally loved growing up. Carrie, Grease and Heathers helped comprise the story with the essence of 80’s, dark humor and a great soundtrack making for an what I believe is a very underrated film. The main girls streamed from Stein growing up with Valley girls and witnessing their interactions as well as pranks they would actually play on one another. Taking the idea of one of them going horrible wrong and writing it out as a crime/comedy. But just the same, a great comedy in general for both sexes to equally enjoy.

The story follows Marcie, aka “Foxy” (Judy Benz) Julie (Rebecca Gayheart) and Courtney (Rose McGowan) who decide to kidnap gal pal Liz (Charlotte Ayanna) for her birthday. However Courtney fails to mention the use of a Jawbreaker as a means of not having their friend scream and getting a bit more than bargained for. Or perhaps she didn’t, now a show in for Prom Queen. Handling the situation with the utmost ease and suggesting that they place her back in her bed with hopes of the Police attesting to rape. That is, until they’re caught in the act by Fern Mayo (Judy Greer). Offering the chance of taking Liz’s place, if only to keep their “bloated boo-boo” under wraps. Participating in the young Fern blossoming into a full-grown Vylette. Who eventually forgets her place among the other flowers and steps over a line of which Courtney doesn’t take a liking to. All the while Julie, who had already drifted away from the group, tags along with new boy toy Zack (Chad Christ) in coming to Fern’s rescue. Taking their sides and coming up with a plan to surprise the Queen B at Prom.

I’ve always loved re-watching old movies I would see time and time again if just to realize that in no way should I have been watching them at such a young age. Not that I ever minded. But to actually get the funny parts or references I otherwise would overlook. It was also around the time each Actress was getting their recognition and what a great film to look back on that helped start it all. As well as the several cameos you can’t help but appreciate. Each member of the Purr family having been in a Carrie movie whether Liz (Carrie 2: The Rage) or her parents, played by William Katt and P.J. Soles. Just don’t blink too often or you may miss them. Jeff Conaway also had a slightly bigger part as Marcie’s single father that liked to watch Oprah and sing Tiffany songs. With Lisa Robin KellyTatyana Ali, The Donnas (loved them!) and Marilyn Manson each making their faces known through the film. However my favorite “extras” were Carol Kane (Principal Sherwood) and Pam Grier (Detective Vera). Kane is always great to watch in her small but “unimportant” roles. She was meant to mimic the Principal from Grease and held the notion of being rather unpopular back in her day. Thus the approach she takes when speaking with Courtney and her lap dog Marcie. Kane also provided the dress she wore to Prom which I thought was pretty interesting considering what it looked like. Anyone recall? No matter. Grier, having more than enough experience at this point in intimidating people, came in with no less intention and executed another fan favorite performance.

What I remember loving most about this film was the color palettes provided for each girl. They seemed to only get more extreme as the film progressed. They also may have been popular but were certainly from a different time period all together, though the extras remained your typical and otherwise High School students. Then once Julie separated from the group her style began to transform into a more motherly approach. The interactions between the three main girls being the next fond memory. While most people may recall Gayheart as the Noxzema girl, I couldn’t help but love her as the whacked out B in Urban Legend. So when Courtney and Julie were pinned up against the other was when I was hoping to really see some action. But the evil stares and decoded language sufficed. Of course Courtney was guilty, SPOILER, no one just thinks of such an elaborate plan without a little intent. Julie had it pretty easy considering the evidence was handed right to her, thus their idea of ruining her crowning moment. Marcie was sure to hide under the table once called out, showing her true colors, backing Courtney through just about anything, except for a confession.

Stein also stated how important it was to showcase the ugliness behind beauty, something we tend to overlook, especially in High School. With a theme and over abundance of spheres to remind you of the murder weapon and how it came to completely surround them. Which in itself says something about the attention to detail. They also built their own factory used in the title sequence when unable to locate one they could shoot in. Showing you the transitions for the main characters as well as the candy and how they each started out, brought into the present day when they collide paths. So many shots that I loved for aesthetics more than anything. The beginning with the girls walking down the hall, then once again when they bring Fern in. When they decide to take Liz back to her house and pass the pool as we view just their heels scurrying across the reflection of the water. How Courtney orders Marcie to capture Fern and the way her speech transitions into the transformation. How Julie “saw” Liz in her pool right before she heard of the news of her body being found. Constant things to appreciate about the movie the more you view as it ends with just desserts being served. Oh, the cruel politics of High School.