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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Dark comedy centered on aftermath of accidental murder of a popular girl by another popular girl. Satire rooted in the duplicity, shallowness, and snobbery inherent in attaining and maintaining popularity in high school. The nature of friendship in high school is called into question.
Positive Role Models
Characters show little remorse for murdering one of their friends. Revenge and duplicity are championed by the characters. Popularity and status are everything to everyone attending Reagan High School.
Violence & Scariness
A girl is seemingly kidnapped by three masked attackers out of her bedroom, then gagged with a jawbreaker before having her mouth taped shut; she's killed by her friends, as a birthday prank. They return their friend's corpse to her bed and attempt to make it look like it was a rape by tearing her clothes and changing the position of her body. A girl faints and hits her head on the pavement upon realizing her popularity is no more and that she's a laughingstock.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Frequent sex talk among teens. A girl forces her boyfriend to suck on a popsicle as if it's a penis. A girl seduces an older man and has sex with him with the intent of framing him for murder -- close-ups of his face while his body gyrates as if in the act of intercourse. Gestures and facial expressions made to imply oral sex.
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Constant, unrelenting profanity. "F--k" is used in practically every line of dialogue. "S--t." "Bitch." "Motherf----r." Lesbians are mockingly called "carpet munchers" by a popular girl. "Pissed." Sexual innuendo: A girl who has to answer the front door answers her boyfriend's "Don't go" entreaty with "Don't come."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some beer drinking, some cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jawbreaker is a very dark 1999 comedy about the aftermath of the accidental murder of a popular girl by another popular girl. The movie overall is a cynical comment on popularity, status, and the ephemeral nature of friendship in high school. The profanity is far above and beyond the normal range of cursing in most movies -- perhaps Goodfellas is the only movie to use "f--k" with greater frequency, only instead of it being used by Mafioso, it's used by snotty and privileged (mostly) white girls. There are no redeeming characters; everyone in the entire high school plays the popularity clique game, and no one even thinks to question it. A girl is seemingly kidnapped by three masked attackers out of her bedroom, then gagged with a jawbreaker before having her mouth taped shut; she's killed by her friends who have done it as a birthday prank. Frequent sex talk among teens. A girl forces her boyfriend to suck on a popsicle as if it's a penis. A girl seduces an older man and has sex with him with the intent of framing him for murder. Caustic and profoundly negative humor drives the movie -- think of it as the nihilistic wicked stepsister of Heathers and Mean Girls. This nihilism can be downright disturbing, cruel, and not all that funny -- such as a joke set up to make fun of anorexic girls. And yet, despite being critically panned and a commercial failure upon its initial release, the movie's distinctive style, fashion sense, and off-the-charts exaggeration of adolescent drama has given it a loyal cult following. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is the nihilistic stepsister of Heathers and Mean Girls. Sadly, it doesn't say anything much different than the former (merely sacrificing timeless satire for smug cynicism), and the quality of the writing isn't at the level of the latter. A commercial dud that was critically panned upon its initial release, Jawbreaker has emerged as a cult favorite. Perhaps the positives of the movie -- the fashion sense, the iconic scene of the four popular girls strutting down the high school hallway in slow motion, The Donnas rocking the prom, the '90s sensibility permeating it, and the sheer evil Rose McGowan brings to her truly horrible character -- deserve to be appreciated decades later. And yet, there's so much that's slapdash and lazy, smug and glib, that an argument could also be made that it belongs in the trash heap of '90s history alongside Right Said Fred and Blockbuster Video.
The ending is deeply unsatisfying. For a movie with so much larger-than-life exaggeration, a conveniently arrived MacGuffin and a tame, questionable revenge plot is a deflating letdown. It's a laziness that reveals the cracks in the rest of the movie. The dark comedy is at everyone's expense, even those who don't deserve it. Simply making a joke at the expense of anorexics, for instance, doesn't make it "dark comedy," especially if it isn't funny and just comes across as pointlessly mean. This kind of mean-spiritedness dilutes the comedy that might drive the point of the movie, assuming there's one beyond "no one really has friends in high school and everyone is a willing participant in the caste system of American adolescence." And having teen characters throw as many F-bombs as the middle-aged Mafioso in Goodfellas might be "edgy" to some, but the word eventually loses its humor and shock value, and comes across as desperate.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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