The world of high school is one subject that movies love to deal with because well the lives of teenagers are usually so ripe with drama...I should know as I was once a teen in high school only eleven years ago. It depends what you were in high school that defines how your own high school movie would go: drama, comedy or maybe even horror or even a combination of the three. Popularity in high school is something we all either had or wanted but did you ever wonder if that was enough? Maybe being yourself was okay because most of the popular people I knew were either very nice or completely obnoxious and I don't think it was important enough to be popular if everyone hated you but if you could be popular and nice it made the mean girls just hate you even more.
Why do I sound so melodramatic you ask? Because this is basically the premise of why I love this movie we came here to talk about: Jawbreaker. I saw this film when I was sixteen and a freshman/sophomore in high school and it is one of those films that I came to embrace about high school and kind of helped me understand the way popularity worked: either fear or hero worship. Since it it is a black comedy I don't take the lesson seriously but I do take it with a grain of salt.
What's The Plot?
Every high school has its clique of popular girls and at Regan High, The Flawless Four rule the school. There of course is the nice popular girl, Elizabeth Purr, and then the girl popular because of her looks, Julie Freeman, and her closeness with the aforementioned Liz Purr. There is the brainless follower, Marcie Fox also known as "Foxy", and then there is the Queen Bee Bitch who rules with fear behind a mask of deceit, Courtney Shayne. Despite their different personalities, these four girls are friends who enjoy shopping, hanging out by the pool and playing practical jokes on one another until the day one of those pranks goes too far.
"Kidnapping" Liz from her bed on her seventeenth birthday with the prospect of tying her to the flagpole in her undies before all of Regan High, Courtney, Julie and Marcie discover Liz dead in the trunk of the car instead after she asphyxiates on a jawbreaker that Courtney used to gag her with which is now lodged in her throat. Julie and Marcie are panicked and upset but Courtney, ice queen that she is, decides that they will just return Liz to her bed since her parents are gone on some sort of vacation or retreat and make it look like their friend was the victim of a possible sexual attack. Calling as Liz's mother, Courtney tells the Principal Miss Sherwood that Liz is sick and that one of her friends will bring her homework home. However, the girls get so caught up in their plans to get Liz's body home that they forget the homework and Miss Sherwood gives the task to unpopular, mousy Fern Mayo who literally worships and fanatically adores Elizabeth Purr.
Fern ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and hears Courtney admit to killing Liz (possibly on purpose out of jealousy at Liz's popularity due to her kindness and natural/inside beauty) and when she discovers the body she runs off. Courtney and Marcie get to Fern before she can tell anyone and Courtney offers Fern something in exchange for her silence: popularity. She tells Fern she can take Liz's place and finally be one of the beautiful people she has always dreamed of (which is probably why she had such a fixation on Liz in the first place even though Liz was nice to her once) and of course Fern is easily swayed.
|Julie Benz as Marcie "Foxy" Fox|
Disgusted at Courtney's actions, Julie leaves the Flawless Four who now become a terror trio with a newly blonde and fashionably dressed Fern who becomes Courtney's creation, dubbed the mysterious transfer student "Vylette". Seems the politics of high school will go on until the death of Elizabeth Purr is announced as rape and Julie knows that Courtney is behind it but can she convince Detective Vera Cruz who is on the case that everything is not what it seems? With her new found popularity at stake, can Fern turn against Courtney or will she become the monster instead...even worse than the queen bee who made her?
The plot of Jawbreaker sounds like any normal high school teen flick but with its dark take at comedy the movie is anything but sweet after school special fluff. The title itself is named after a piece of candy but I wouldn't call this film as anything remotely sugary as I would probably liken it more to Sour Patch Kids instead: bitter with a sweetness underneath which is fitting to the characters. Both Fern and Julie fall to being sour on the outside but truly nice people inside while Courtney is just the opposite: sugary on the outside but bitter within which I guess would make her the true jawbreaker and not just in a metaphorical way either. One of the many things Jawbreaker has going for it is the fact that you can relate to the main characters whether you are a man or a woman because there was always the nice ones, the popular ones, the mean ones, the wannabes and the outcasts in every school and you can remember being one or knowing one in your own youth.
Setting the story aside, another thing that makes Jawbreaker a fantastic film to watch is that it has a very good cast. In a role after her breakout in Scream and before she became part of the Power of Three on the WB's Charmed, Rose McGowan is very good at playing a very bad girl and she is always sexy and cute no matter what she does. Maybe I am biased a little because my name is Courtney but I love to love and hate Rose McGowan as Courtney Shayne because her morals and ethics are non-existent but she is also very cool and icy that nothing gets under her skin and I kind of like that about her.
|Rose McGowan as Courtney Shayne|
Rebecca Gayheart as Julie is another favorite of mine because she is portraying a character that is actually like a lot of people I know where as she isn't what she seems. She's pretty and it could give her license to be as much a bitch as Courtney but Julie is very nice in a human way as she feels bad for what happened to her best friend Liz and then she becomes concerned for Fern's own well being and genuinely tries to reach out and be her friend.
|Rebecca Gayheart as Julie|
Speaking of Fern, I love actress Judy Greer in this film and in general as much as I love Rose McGowan in all of her roles. I love how Greer can go from being a nice girl to a bad girl because when she is a nice girl she can be demure or bubbly and when she is a bad girl she can go from being slightly cold to being a down right evil bitch and that takes real acting to pull that off. As Fern, I can relate to being one of those unpopular, geeks who feels invisible and wanting not popularity per se but at least acknowledgement that I am a good-hearted person.
Julie Benz who plays Marcie "Foxy" Fox is great to watch in this movie as the air-headed sidekick to McGowan's sadistic villain and after watching her portray Darla on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel which is a complete 180 from Foxy, it's clear to me that Julie Benz is so very talented. Charlotte Ayanna who plays Liz Purr has no dialogue in this film but she deserves recognition because I don't know if I could act like a corpse for almost half a film where I have to look dead on at a camera and not blink. I wish she could have had a bigger part maybe in flashbacks or something to show just how nice Liz really was and why she was so popular because I've seen Charlotte Ayanna act with dialogue in The Rage: Carrie 2 and she is by no means without skill or talent beyond being very pretty. Besides the main character cast, there are great supporting actors in this film even if they play maybe not so memorable characters such as Carol Kane who plays the Principal Miss Sherwood (I have always loved Kane with her quirkiness and that distinct voice of hers as well as she is a good actress).
The late Jeff Conway (known to most as Kenicke from Grease) makes a cameo as Marcie's single dad in a very hilarious scene and the original Foxy...Foxy Brown that is Pam Grier appears as hard ass but cool as ice Detective Vera Cruz. Since I am a Carrie fan, I have to mention that William Katt and P.J. Soles from the 1976 film appear in a very short blink and you will miss it cameo as Liz's parents who only appear to return home and find their daughter dead. (their daughter who's actress also happened to be in the Carrie sequel I might add!) I wish they had gotten more screen time but I guess it would have taken a little bit of the darkness out of the film if we had to focus on the parents' grief for the death of their only child but I would have liked to have seen what Katt and Soles could have done with it.
|William Katt & P.J. Soles as Liz's poor parents|
The last thing I think that makes me a fan of Jawbreaker is that it has a very kick ass soundtrack! If you are into indie pop, alternative, rock and pop punk then you would love the soundtrack even if the movie was not something to your liking. The Cars and Veruca Salt have songs that only appear in the movie but the soundtrack has Letters To Cleo, The Scorpions, The Donnas and some great maybe not as well known bands such as Shampoo, Transister, Imperial Teen and The Friggs who have some very good stand out songs in the film that don't appear on the soundtrack as well as tracks on the soundtrack album itself.
So sorry if this blog post was really long winded but when I talk about movies I really enjoy and want to share with you I have to tell you every detail that I think you need to know and should know. Is Jawbreaker a movie for everyone? Probably not. Is it worth seeing? I think it is. Are you going to try and give it a viewing anytime soon or ever? Now I can't answer that because I am not you but if you want to check out something different for a change I highly recommend giving Jawbreaker a taste.
Next Blog: For the next couple of blogs we are going to be focusing on some film franchises which means some more remakes, some sequels and the ever fun trilogies and movie series that refuse to die! So first up: I Know What You Did Last Summer