Words By: Guy Webster
20 Years ago, our screens were graced a bat-shit crazy movie that made all of us think: ‘Maybe Y2K wouldn’t be so bad right now?’
Basically, a group of mates plan a birthday celebration like no other. Forget the surprise party at Strike Bowling or a birthday pub crawl that’ll end with hours of aimless walking. Instead, the party theme is ‘casual kidnapping’, cause why the hell not? Chucked into the boot of a fashionable LA hybrid, mouth-taped over a Jawbreaker, this will be the best birthday surprise ever planned. Except that the person they kidnapped chokes on that jawbreaker and dies while they breeze down the expressway.
For anyone who’s seen Jawbreaker, you know just how 90s it is. The 1999 film saw the clichés of coming-of-age high school dramas and decided to throw the genre on its head with a mix of dark comedy, 90s neon outfits, and Gossip Girl-style bitchiness that borders on the absurd. 20 years on, the film still holds firmly to a ‘cult-hit’ status. If ‘Clueless’ is H&M then ‘Jawbreaker’ is the discount rack of an abandoned ‘Supre’. If ‘Heathers’ is a shot of whiskey to the system, Jawbreaker is its spring-break jello shot alternative – and it’s only gotten better with age.
The cast – made up of Julie Benz, Rose McGowan, Judy Greer, and even a weird cameo by Marilyn Manson, to name a few – are now household names (or, at least in some households). It’s impossible not to laugh at Julie Benz (who I thought was Patricia Arquette for 24-years of my life) as she pushes California air-head to its limits, or at Rose McGowan’s dark-humour and detached delivery. The cast, and director Darren Stein, just seem to have the best damn time walking the halls of Ragan High in kitten-heels and the classic 90s mid-riff.
While the film has a colour palette that definitely screams ‘Spring Break Foam Party That You’ll Definitely Contract HPV From’, it jams too much of the macabre to be just your average High School comedy. It’s packed with self-awareness and plenty of bat-shit dumb moments that’ll have you laughing mid-eye roll. Jawbreaker just doesn’t take itself too seriously (most of the time). Plus, we have its distinct brand of satire to thank for ‘Mean Girls’ and….um…..I guess that’s it, just ‘Mean Girls’.
It might not be on Netflix yet, but it’s worth committing to the entire 90s aesthetic and tracking down that one Blockbuster still clinging to life somewhere to rent it out. It’s about damn time we get a revival of Jawbreaker-style 90s nostalgia via shirts printed with one of the film’s most memorable quotes: ‘Being the teen dream can be a little hard to swallow.’