Back in February, Hulu acquired the distribution rights to to the Sundance Jury Prize-winning documentary Jawline. The film is now set to premiere on Hulu this week.
Jawline explores the life of a 16-year-old boy as he tries to become famous through social media and leave his old life behind him.
Jawline has a lot of heart. Whereas most of the people living this social media lifestyle, both talent and management, come off as completely unlikeable (at least to me), I found myself rooting for Austyn, this 16-year-old kid from a poor family in Tennessee. His positive attitude and ability to overcome his dark past just makes you want to see him succeed.
However, that’s just about where the appeal of Jawline ends. There’s really not much of a story to this documentary. It’s about a kid trying to become famous on the internet – something millions of kids around the world are trying to do every day. And yeah, we see glimpses into the world of those who actually succeed but that just comes off as more annoying than actually interesting.
In fact, right at the peak of Austyn’s story, we see him regress to a typical teenager. The unstoppable, positive kid we watched in the first two acts suddenly doesn’t want to do the work of an occasional livestream or lip syncing video. It really pulls you out of the story and makes you realize, “oh yeah, I’m just watching a teenager being a teenager.”
Now, I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of this culture and perhaps this documentary will speak much more to those who are. And perhaps this can serve as a window into the industry for them. But even if that is the case, I’m not too sure what they can get out of it.
You might think they would see that it’s not as glamorous as it really seems, but at no point do we really see these “famous” kids working all that hard. Are you supposed to take away the lesson that becoming famous isn’t all that easy? That doesn’t seem like much of a lesson to me. If it were easy, everyone would do it and then everyone (or no one) would be famous.
I’m just not sure what viewers are supposed to get out of Jawline, because again, there’s not much of a story to it.
That’s not to say it’s not well done though. Like I said, it did have me rooting for a kid I had never heard of who just posts an occasional video online. It does build a sense of drama where there actually is very little. These aren’t life-or-death circumstances. If the kid fails, he goes back to school like everyone else. Not the worst thing in the world. Still, they manage to make you care, at least for the first two thirds or so.
Overall, I would say Jawline would probably only be interesting to those who are studying social media culture or trying to break into that world themselves. Of course, it’s probably also interesting to teenage girls. Which I can infer from the droves of screaming teenage girls in this documentary (which also didn’t help).
Jawline will be available to stream on Hulu on Friday, August 23.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”