Sunday, July 27, 2014

Heathers: High School as Hell Stands the Test of Time

Movie Review: Heathers

Director: Michael Lehmann

Reviewed: 26 July 2014

jamesintexas rating--***1/2

Wow. Heathers, the dark high school comedy from 1988, still packs a potent punch over twenty-six years later with its quotable and memorable dialogue, memorable lead performance by Winona Ryder, and its uniquely sardonic vision. Its characters quibble about how much time they get off from school in the wake of an apparent suicide outbreak, and it all stems from the in-crowd of the three Heathers who rule the school as the original mean girls. Ryder stars as Veronica, the hanger-on of the Heathers who ends up plotting their fall from power and total destruction with the new kid in school J.D. (Christian Slater). The film concerns the power of high school cliques, the hilarious apathy of the adults in charge, and the opportunity to skewer teen culture. Although I feel that the film's second half unravels a bit and loses the momentum firmly established from the opening sequence, Heathers has a unique and often hilarious perspective on hypocrisy and facades. It is good to be reminded of a time when Winona Ryder ruled the world, and Christian Slater's performance has its own charm. At its best moments, Heathers has a kind of comic frenzy: Veronica writing in exaggerated handwriting in her diary; witty repartee between Veronica and her parents; dark monologues delivered along side coffins; an inverted conversation between J.D. and his dad; and, at last, underlining meaningful passages in Moby-Dick. Does it deserve its place among the best high school films of all time? I say because of its weirdness and wonderful script, Heathers earns a spot among the most memorable of that list. At the time, I cannot even imagine how its controversial subject matter was received; it still has a sharp edge.

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