Heathers

This review was originally written as part of my road trip series for French Toast Sunday.

Veronica (Winona Ryder) has integrated herself into the popular clique at her school, known as the Heathers, because the other three members are all named Heather (Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk & Kim Walker). However, Veronica’s existence isn’t as pleasant as she’d like, so when she meets the school’s new rebel JD (Christian Slater), the pair set about restructuring their environment, with unexpected outcomes.

Heathers is very much a cult movie, which is to say that there is a select group of people who absolutely adore it in every way, finding it hilarious, biting and, frankly, amazing in every way. And then there’s people like me, who just don’t seem to get the appeal.Heathers is a movie with a decent, funny script that is much better than the film that surrounds it, but is given a pass for it’s supposedly unique strand of social commentary – teen suicide – and its dialogue, which in my opinion is desperately trying to become far more quotable than it deserves. This results in a disjointed, confused plot, wherein the characters’ motivations change on a whim or are entirely inexplicable throughout, but who cares because it’s funny, right?
Heather 02

Yes, I’ll grant you that the movie is comical. The scenes involving Veronica’s clueless parents, completely oblivious to the carnage their daughter is involved with, are very funny, mainly due to the performances given by Jennifer Rhodes and William Cort. Also, there are some genuinely funny lines in the script, deftly satirising teenagers’ ability to create new words and phrases when there are perfectly acceptable ones already in existence. I’m very glad “What’s your damage?” and using “very” as an adjective without an accompanying noun never caught on, but “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw” should probably be used more often.

However, overall it’s trying to be much funnier than it is. Veronica herself is a proto-hipster who writes in her diary with giant lettering, despite seeing through a monocle for no reason whatsoever. It’s twee and kitsch in a manner that grates rather than garners appreciation. The same can be said for the liberal use of croquet, and the fashion in the movie, which goes a few steps beyond an acceptable parody.

Heather 07

The plot itself doesn’t seem to know where it wants to go, and quickly loses control of itself before it even gets going. Parallels could be drawn between this and Veronica herself losing control of a situation she barely helped instigate, but I think that’s a stretch. It’s a cobbled together mish-mash of disconnected elements which if used properly could have been interesting and complementary – JD and his father’s relationship is unusual to say the least, as is the state’s rampant homophobia – apparently drinking mineral water instead of beer is a tell-tale sign you’re gay. Unfortunately, it isn’t funny enough to work as a comedy, and the plot is too aimless to be anything else. I thought I’d like this film a lot more – I’m a big fan of Mean Girls, which draws clear inspiration from Heathers, but is more driven and coherent – but alas it felt like a waste of time. Also, the DVD menu featured possibly the most graphics I’ve every seen.

Choose Life 5/10

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