Monday, September 9, 2013

Heathers (quickie)

Alright, with my celebratory Disney post out of the way I'm back with more movies recommended by my friends, and no movie was suggested more frequently than the 1988 classic Heathers. This movie feels like Mean Girls set in the world of The Breakfast Club, which is an easy way to tell that it is among the all-time best high school movies. But there's something else, something you might never see coming from looking at the movie poster or a plot synopsis. Heathers is bonkers. While it may have the same themes as your average high school comedy/drama, it stirs a little Dirty Harry into the mix to the point where it almost feels like a slightly less psychotic version of House (my review) where the satire targets high school drama instead of horror. Veronica (Winona Ryder), this movie's Lindsey Lohan, is trying desperately to fit in at school, and while she has a fair degree of success, she's alienating her classmates to earn the favor of people she doesn't care for. Then she meets J.D. (Christian Slater, who is just... so good. I mean, he wasn't even 20 when this movie came out) and he helps her out of this deadlock by, well, by killing people. Heathers takes the interpersonal tensions from Mean Girls and fully embraces the murderous fantasies they generate.

Part of me wants to make this required reading for all high schoolers. Heathers deals with the issues of popularity and conformity in a fairly nuanced way that's not boring or preachy. So much of high school involves coming to an understanding of the constructed and contingent nature of identity, something a lot of adults still don't seem to fully comprehend. The film even draws these themes through the more mature metaphors of social and political power. But then I remember that I watched this in high school and had about the same understanding of what was going on as when my English teacher told me that Lord of the Flies was a satirical allegory of World War 2. Satire isn't for everyone, and if there's a problem with Heathers this is it. You have to be in the right mood in order to enjoy or appreciate the movie, and that mood is one which some people might never experience. If you can enjoy overblown satire with some serious 80's style, however, then prepare for some good times.

Final Notes
 - Heathers is chock full of amazing quotes (as well as some of the greatest insults and slurs), but my favorite is when the hippie school teacher instructs Winona Ryder, "Whether to kill yourself or not is one of the most important decisions a teenager can make!"
 - The moment when, in response to being bullied by some of cinema's most stereotypical jocks, Christian Slater pulls out a revolver and fires, you know you picked the right movie.
 - "Did you hear? School's canceled today cause Kurt & Ram killed themselves in a repressed, homosexual, suicide pact."

(Cult classic status: perfect for some, but not for everyone)

3 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting. I really only know Christian Slater from 'True Romance' and 'Who is Cletis Tout', both good movies.

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    Replies
    1. I think this is actually the only thing I've seen Christian Slater in, but I really liked him.

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