(director/writer: Darren Stein; cinematographer: Amy Vincent; editor: Troy Takaki; music: the Donnas; cast:  Pam Grier (Detective Vera Cruz), Carol Kane (Miss Sherwood), Judy Greer (Fern/Vylette Mayo), Rose McGowan (Courtney Shayne), Julie Benz (Marci Fox), Rebecca Gayheart (Julie Freeman), Chad Christ  (Zack), Ethan Erickson (Dane Sanders), Charlotte Roldan (Liz Purr); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Stacy Kramer, Lisa Tornell; Columbia Tristar; 1999)

“It is annoying from beginning to end.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

I’d be hard-pressed to name a more mean-spirited black comedy. The 26-year-old writer-director Darren Stein (“Sparkler”) shows a tin ear for comedy. The result is a lame shocker lightweight comedy that misses any attempt at irony by a suburban mile. It is annoying from beginning to end. To call it garbage might not be going far enough.

In the fictional Reagan High, in San Fernando Valley, the school’s most envied clique of seniors is Liz (Charlotte Roldan), Courtney (Rose McGowan), Marci (Julie Benz) and Julie (Rebecca Gayheart). The close friends, on the popular Liz’s 17th birthday, accidentally kill her while pulling a kidnapping prank. After invading her bedroom in masks, the bitchy domineering Courtney stuffs a candy jawbreaker in her mouth and tapes her mouth shut, The girls then put her in the trunk of Courtney’s car. When they open the trunk at the diner, planning to surprise her with a breakfast, they find she has been asphyxiated by the jawbreaker. While bringing the dead girl back to her bedroom, hoping to cover-up the crime, the school’s geek, Fern Mayo (Judy Greer), stumbles on the truth while running a school errand to Liz’s house.

Julie has a falling out with the other girls for refusing to report the crime to the police, and no longer stays with them. While Courtney contrives to silence Fern by letting her hang around with Marci and herself, and giving her a beauty makeover to look sexy.

Pam Grier plays the detective investigating the homicide. Carol Kane plays the caring but clueless teacher.  

This is a very low mark in filmmaking. It’s an example of what can go wrong if you rip off Heathers and think you can get by with style alone.

Jawbreaker Poster

REVIEWED ON 2/21/2017       GRADE: D