Jawbreaker AKA Heathers Redux

Every so often, a little fluff as nice. Granted, there are some great classics out there worth studying, but who doesn’t enjoy not having to think for 90 minutes every so often? Jawbreaker is a perfect movie for just such an occasion. It literally warrants absolutely no thought past its 87 minutes, and in fact, worsens if looked at too closely. Nevertheless, at its heart is one of the same teen movies that it claims to be mocking, but I’m willing to forgive its flaws.

It tells the story of a group of girlfriends who accidentally kill one of the members of their clique. The group splits after the incident with earnest Julie, who wants to tell the truth and ruthless Courtney and Foxy embracing the hand that fate has dealt them. Rebecca Gayheart plays Julie, the innocent girl in the group. Gayheart seems to phone it in, but as with most teen movies, there’s little depth to her role, so its’ somewhat understandable. Instead, this movie takes more delight in being wicked. Rose Mcgowan is delightfully devilish in the role of pack leader, Courtney Shane. While Rose Mcgowan tends to lack a little in the acting department, think about it, how much talent is really required to play a one-dimensional bitch? The answer is, it doesn’t require a whole lot, but Mcgowan makes it enjoyable nonetheless. It almost seems unfair, because the audience is clearly supposed to side with the morally upstanding Julie than the queen bee Courtney, but when she’s given the best lines and clearly holds all the power in the group, it seems an unfair fight. However, as with just about every other teen movie, this film relies on the conventions of the genre. Courtney is punished for her wrongdoing. Granted, the punishment seems a little tame for her crimes, but that’s of no consequence. After all, this movie isn’t striving for reality.

Its playful in its demeanor. At its heart, it’s an attempt at the revival of the “politically conscious” teen movie. Just as Heathers dealt with feelings of alienation and isolation and Mean Girls dealt with similar fare, Jawbreaker attempts to dissect the cruel politics of high school popularity. It leaves something to be desired, by sticking to the archetypal types, but it has fun with it. For instance, there is no doubt in the viewer’s mind that these actors and actresses are far past high school age, the director did this intentionally as a throwback to teen movies which regularly feature 20-somethings playing angst-ridden high schoolers. Although, there are several nods to generations of teen movies past, it’s clearly all in good fun. However, when watching the movie, you can’t help but view it as little more than that. While it had the potential and the ability to be something that criticized the way that things were in high school, instead it panders to them. At least, it attempts to. When Jawbreaker was released, to very little fanfare, it seemed that it failed in just about all its sensibilities. Nevertheless, it remains an enjoyable pop culture artifact that wallows in its trashiness and its camp.

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