Jawbreaker (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Darren Stein
Produced by Adam Silverman
Written by Darren Stein
Starring Rose McGowan
Rebecca Gayheart
Julie Benz
Judy Greer
Ethan Erickson
Carol Kane
Pam Grier
Music by Stephen Endelman
Cinematography Amy Vincent
Edited by Troy T. Takaki
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
Running time
87 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3.5 million
Box office $3,117,085[1]

Jawbreaker is a 1999 American black comedy film written and directed by Darren Stein. The film stars Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Julie Benz, and Judy Greer as girls in an exclusive clique in their high school. Charlotte Ayanna has a non-speaking cameo role as a murdered prom queen. The film was inspired by the film Heathers, and is often compared to it, particularly the plot involving a popular female clique, and the accidental murder of one of its members. It also holds similarities to Carrie. Of his concept for the film, Stein has stated "The jawbreaker just came to represent the duality of the poppy sweetness of the girls, of high school and of youth, versus the whole idea that this thing could break your jaw".[2] The film was released on February 19, 1999 and was a critical and financial failure. Similarities have drawn between Jawbreaker and the 2004 film Mean Girls.[3]


The "Flawless Four" are the most popular girls in Reagan High School. The clique consists of Courtney Shayne (Rose McGowan); Marcie Fox (Julie Benz); Julie Freeman (Rebecca Gayheart); and Elizabeth 'Liz' Purr (Charlotte Ayanna), the "Princess Di of Reagan High." Of the four, only Liz is genuinely kind-hearted to everybody regardless of their social rankings and loved by the entire school. Julie was popular because of her looks and being best friends with Liz, while cold-blooded queen bee Courtney and her airheaded follower, Marcie, demand respect through terror.

Courtney, Marcie and Julie decide to play a prank on Liz the morning of her seventeenth birthday, by performing a fake kidnapping. They surprise Liz in bed, bind her with ropes, ram a jawbreaker into her mouth to gag her, and seal her mouth with duct tape. The girls lock Liz in the trunk of a car and drive off, actually planning to take her to a restaurant for breakfast. Upon opening the trunk, however, they are greeted with the grisly sight of Liz dead, having choked on the jawbreaker.

Julie wants to go to the police but Courtney forbids her. Courtney calls the school pretending to be Liz's mother and tells them Liz is ill and cannot attend school, then the three go to school as though nothing had happened. When Principal Sherwood (Carol Kane) sends school outcast, and ardent admirer of Liz, Fern Mayo (Judy Greer) to deliver Liz's homework at the end of the day, she stumbles upon the three girls and Liz's mangled body. Out of jealousy, Courtney fabricates an elaborate story that Liz died at the hands of a rapist, and plots to tarnish Liz's good reputation by spreading false rumors that she was actually a rebellious, promiscuous girl, and not the perfect angel she made herself out to be.

Fern, who had hero worshipped Liz, attempts to flee the house. The girls catch her and buy her silence by accepting her into the clique. Courtney and Marcie give Fern a makeover, transforming her from plain and awkward to elegant and beautiful. The transformation is so complete that Courtney introduces Fern as the beautiful exchange student "Vylette."

Julie, overwhelmed by guilt at her part in Liz's death, breaks away from the clique, only to be tormented by her former friends and become a new target for abuse throughout the school. Her only real friend during this time is her boyfriend and drama student, Zack. As Vylette's popularity soars, Julie watches in silence as Courtney spins an endless web of lies to cover up the murder and maintain her popularity. Julie threatens to go to the police and tell them the truth, but Courtney retorts that she, Marcie and now Vylette will claim it was Julie who killed Liz if she attempts to expose them. Julie learns that, after they'd returned Liz's corpse to her house, Courtney went out and seduced a stranger (Marilyn Manson) at a sleazy bar and had sex with him in Liz's bed, making it seem as though he had raped Liz.

Vylette becomes intoxicated with her new-found popularity, which has eclipsed Courtney's own. In response, Courtney and Marcie post enlarged yearbook photos of Fern Mayo all over the school with the message "Who is Vylette" written on them, revealing Vylette's true identity and leaving her humiliated. Julie takes pity on Fern and forgives her for falling under Courtney's influence.

While the heartless Courtney attends the senior prom with jock Dane Sanders (Ethan Erickson), Julie is at home going through a bag of Liz's belongings that were given to her. Upon finding a recordable greeting card she was fiddling with when Courtney was faking Liz's death scene, Julie discovers it has recorded Courtney's admission to the killing. Armed with this evidence, Julie, Fern and Zack hurry to the prom.

When Dane and Courtney are announced as Prom King and Queen, Zack sneaks backstage and broadcasts the card's message over the sound system. Dane quickly abandons Courtney while Marcie hides under a table. Horrified that her scheme has unraveled, Courtney tearfully races for the exit as the rest of the furious students pelt her with corsages and call her a murderer. Julie snaps a picture of her former friend's anguished face to immortalize the occasion. As Courtney's photo ends up in the yearbook, the film closes with one of Fern Mayo's quotes to Detective Vera Cruz: "This is high school, Detective Cruz. What is a friend, anyway?"



Critical response was overwhelmingly negative. It currently holds a 7% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 57 reviews (4 positive, 53 negative), leading to its inclusion on several of the websites lists ranking the worst films, earning the distinction of being the single worst film of 1999 as well as ranking among the top ten worst films of the 1990s.[4] Roger Ebert gave the film 1 and a half out of 4, stating "The movie is a slick production of a lame script ... If anyone in the plot had the slightest intelligence, the story would implode".[5] Francesca Dinglasan from Boxoffice magazine gave the film 1 and a half out of 5, criticizing the film's humor and similarities to Heathers.[6] James Berardinelli gave the film a more favorable 2 and a half out of 4, calling it "palatable, and occasionally even clever", however concluding that "while the film offers more than a Heathers rehash, it never fully develops its own identity.[7]

Despite the harsh reviews, the film is considered a cult classic.[citation needed]

Rose McGowan was nominated for the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain, but lost against Matt Dillon and Stephen Dorff for their roles as Pat Healy and Deacon Frost in There's Something About Mary and Blade.


Track # Song title Artist Length
Yoo Hoo Imperial Teen 3:31
I See Letters To Cleo 3:56
Next To You Edna Swap 2:35
Don't Call Me Babe Shampoo 2:58
Bad Word For A Good Thing Friggs 2:53
Stay In Bed Grand Mal 4:49
Flow Transister 5:59
She Bop Howie Beno 3:06
Water Boy Imperial Teen 1:36
Rock You Like a Hurricane Scorpions 4:14
Rock 'n' Roll Machine The Donnas 2:54
Beat You Up The Prissteens 2:36
Trouble Shampoo 3:21

Songs not included on the soundtrack[edit]


  1. ^ "Jawbreaker". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ Maslin, Janet (February 19, 1999), "FILM REVIEW; Eye Candy: Teen Queens of Mean", New York Times (New York, NY) 
  3. ^ http://variety.com/2013/biz/news/mean-girls-heathers-jawbreaker-heading-to-new-york-theater-1200735227/
  4. ^ "Jawbreaker". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 5, 2010. 
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 19, 1999). "Jawbreaker". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 5, 2010. 
  6. ^ Dinglasan, Francesca (August 1, 2008). "Jawbreaker". Boxoffice magazine. Retrieved February 5, 2010. 
  7. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Jawbreaker". Reelviews.net. Retrieved February 5, 2010. 

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