Jawbreaker (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Darren Stein
Produced by Adam Silverman
Written by Darren Stein
Music by Stephen Endelman
Cinematography Amy Vincent
Edited by Troy T. Takaki
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date
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. 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, though it has come to gain a cult following.[citation needed] Similarities have been drawn between Jawbreaker and the 2004 film Mean Girls.[3]


The "Flawless Four" are the most beautiful and popular girls in Reagan High School in Los Angeles. 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 is popular because of her beauty and being best friends with Liz, while cold-blooded queen bee Courtney and her airheaded right-hand girl, Marcie, demand respect through terror.

Courtney, Marcie, and Julie decide to play a mindless prank on Liz the morning of her 17th birthday, by performing a fake kidnapping. They surprise Liz in bed, bind her with ropes, and Courtney rams a jawbreaker into her mouth to gag her, before sealing her mouth with duct tape. The girls then 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 school outcast and ardent admirer of Liz, Fern Mayo (Judy Greer), is sent by Principal Sherwood (Carol Kane) 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, who drank and did drugs and was not the perfect angel she made herself out to be.

Fern attempts to flee the house, but the girls catch her and Courtney buys her silence by accepting her into the clique, telling her to take Liz's place, despite Julie's protests. Courtney and Marcie give Fern a makeover, transforming her from plain and awkward to elegant and beautiful. The transformation is so complete, 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 as her popularity dissolves, she becomes a new target for abuse and contempt throughout the school. Her only real friend during this time is her boyfriend, a drama student named 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 Julie killed Liz if she attempts to expose them. To her disgust, Julie learns that, after they had returned Liz's corpse to her house, Courtney went out that same night 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. Courtney orders Vylette to learn her place, but Vylette vows that if Courtney does not watch her step, then she will reveal the truth behind Liz's death. 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 by the entire school. Julie takes pity on Fern and forgives her for being corrupted by Courtney.

Feeling no remorse for the lives she has destroyed, the heartless Courtney attends the senior prom with jock Dane Sanders (Ethan Erickson). Meanwhile, 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. Disgusted, 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 (four 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 one and a half out of four, 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 one and a half out of five, criticizing the film's humor and similarities to Heathers.[6] James Berardinelli gave the film a more favorable two and a half out of four, calling it "palatable, and occasionally even clever", but concluding, "while the film offers more than a Heathers rehash, it never fully develops its own identity.[7]

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 Ednaswap 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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