Friday Film Review: Heathers

Photo source: The Atlantic
Photo source: The Atlantic

As always, no spoilers.

OK first off, if you haven’t seen this movie, just go ahead and add it to your weekend movie night plans.  This is a fun, hilarious, yet incredibly inappropriate film.

How lucky we are that Heathers was made in the 80s, because this film could never have been made today.  You know, because it has themes of school shootings, school bombings, and knocking off your popular classmates one by one.  It really hits close to home in this violent world of ours, especially in the tensions of gun control and what that means for our schools.

Actually, I first thought this film was a surrealist black comedy, because I did not know that JD had blanks in his gun during the cafeteria scene when he shoots the two jocks (beginning of film).  Like in the film If…, where school shootings and bombings are part of the surrealist counter culture (oooh, maybe I should add that one to the review list).  I wondered why everyone was super nonchalant about it.  He used a real gun, but no one was hurt.  Wow, times were different in the 80s!

So the technical stuff:
I mean, I personally think this film is a work of art.  Sure, the writing isn’t exactly great, but what it lacks in realistic dialogue, it more than makes up for in the most memorable catchphrases I’ve ever heard in my entire life.  And I love a good story about counter culture and rebellion and satire.  The acting is great (helloooo Christian Slater!) but Winona Ryder is the one that shines as a strong and sassy leading lady.  The use of ominous 80s music is great.  With the exception of clothing, there is little reference to pop culture, so the movie actually stands the test of time pretty well.

Deeper Reading:
I know a lot of people like to say this movie paved the way for movies like Clueless and Mean Girls, and that might be true, but I really think it should be more aligned with If….  You know what?  I’m not going to review If…, just watch that gorgeous piece of work and make your own conclusions!  Sure, Heathers is incredibly satirical about high school and the whole “click” or “group think” mentality, but it extends beyond high school.  It celebrates youthful thinking and rebellion while at the same time, pointing out how problematic it is.  It never talks down to the youth though, in fact, the adults are always represented in an idiotic fashion.  The adults can’t connect to reality.  The reality adults create is an illusion, hyped up (this is done through media and frenzy/sensationalism over death) and the teenagers either try and control it, or bring it down.

JD is the “rebel without a cause.”  He’s ridiculous.  His grounds of creating violence are shaky, sound more like terrorism and have nothing to do with creating change.  Here’s his best line: “People will look at the ashes of Westerburg and say, ‘Now there’s a school that self-destructed, not because society didn’t care, but because the school was society.’ Now that’s deep.”  As Veronica points out, when you take down the leader, another will take their place.  Veronica wants change, but she understands that JD’s way may seem effective, however, it is short-lived.  And really, from this quote alone, JD knows it too.  He wants a living, breathing (jokes, man) example of how dumb society is.  He’s a rebel that actually wants NO change.

Like I’ve said before, if you haven’t seen this movie and are sensitive to school violence, this may not be the best for you, because it makes light of it all.  It’s a black comedy.  That’s what they do.  For everyone else, I’d highly recommend this.  It’s a cult classic.  If you have a dark sense of humor, like me, you will be laughing most of the time.

All in all, this movie was so very.

Favorite Line: “Dear Diary: Heather told me she teaches people ‘real life.’ She said, real life sucks losers dry. You want to fuck with the eagles, you have to learn to fly. I said, so, you teach people how to spread their wings and fly? She said, yes. I said, you’re beautiful.” – Veronica
Favorite Scene: All the funeral scenes.  I mean, seriously, they were the best.

Movie Stats, Courtesy of IMDB:
Director: Michael Lehmann
Writer: Daniel Waters
Date: 1988
Runtime: 103 mins
Rating: R

Currently streaming on Netflix.

For more MOVIE NIGHT recommendations.

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