My first thoughts of the film were, “Oh great, another teenage drama filled with malicious intents.” I wasn’t actually far off too. A delightfully dark film with a great cast of morbid personalities. The two most tainted characters are played by Christian Slater as J.D. (Jason Dean) and Wynona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer. Honestly, I haven’t seen many Christian Slater films, but after watching this, I am making it my mission to watch more of his movies. Truly, the man knows how to play a convincing psychopath/sociopath.
The story focuses around Veronica Sawyer, and her conflicted relationship with her clique of friends (or should I say enemies?): “The Heathers”. A troublesome trio of rich, snobby girls who strongly resemble “The Plastics” from the movie Mean Girls. Except each one is named Heather with a signature color. No, it’s not pink. But they do take after croquet colors oddly enough.
Heather #1 (red): Heather Chandler – the ring leader, representing power and lust, a massive …pain; Heather #2 (yellow): Heather McNamara – the faithful follower, representing warmth and cowardice, though not very “bright”; and last but not least Heather #3 (green): Heather Duke – the brainless beauty, representing envy and inexperience, the ill-treated one. Starring Kim Walker (as Heather #1), Lisanne Falk (Heather #2), and Shannen Doherty (as Heather #3).
Now Veronica is apart of the group as well, but she’s a Veronica, who wears blue. She tends to be “blue” throughout the entire film actually – like a storm that brews sporadically until it ignites with disastrous results. The eloquent narration (and journalism) from Veronica is enough to make you laugh, not to mention the dialogue between all the characters, and the teacher meetings even.
Did you know that there is also a Broadway show called Heathers the Musical? You’ll come to find that the lyrics will get stuck in your head, for the songs are to die for! The name Heather and Veronica will begin to have a whole new ring to it. Not to mention red scrunchies will never be the same. Online you can find some songs from the play or from a cartoon, which I recommend you do, because once you do you will crave to see not only the Broadway show, but the movie as well. Yes, it’s that good. Rotten to the core. Or is it? Guess you’ll have to decide that one.
Do keep in mind that this film is rated R for a reason, so kids beware… It’s not scary or gory – nothing like that, but there is sex, cursing (as in bad language), and death in it. Though anyone in high school can understand the humor and situations involved. Like I said, it’s like Mean Girls but with a dark twist. There’s even a hint of Clueless to it, which touches me right in the feels considering I grew up watching that film. Only real difference is that the new kid is not apart of the ensemble, this time it’s the juvenile J.D. who comes at Veronica as some sort of mysterious stranger with an interesting perspective on life. Daniel Waters, the film’s writer, had intended to make “a Carson McCullers-style novel of a girl who meets the Antichrist as a teenager”.
On a side note, I’m convinced there was a contest of “Who Can Wear The Coolest Blazer?” going on throughout this entire film. But not J.D.! He’s all for the ole’ fashioned trench coat. What a guy… With his opening introduction line of “Greetings and salutations”, how could you not be charmed by him? Or is that just me?
On another side note, I find J.D.’s relationship with his father rather amusing. Disturbing, but amusing. Almost like a Freaky Friday segment, where the roles are reversed from time to time. But not quite. Let’s just say you don’t want to get in the way of this family…
In Veronica’s case though, her parents are completely clueless to what’s going on. I mean the way her mother reacts to her attempted suicide is beyond me. I’m convinced her parents live off of pâté. Which seems just absurd to me, but in the world of glam, perhaps it is not.
A scene in the film had me riddled for it reminded me strangely of the Rocky Horror Picture Show whence I saw the 3-D glasses on all the attendees at the funeral dream scene. But what do you expect when the pastor is Beetlejuice‘s Glenn Shadix? With a name like Father Ripper too…I approve.
The one thing that had me truly riddled though, was the how the gun situation was handled at school. J.D., at one point in the film, draws out a gun firing two shots of blanks to scare away bullies. Now grant it nobody got shot, nor hurt, but it’s still a scary situation, and it would’ve been handled differently nowadays. Perhaps times have changed so much to where students can no longer get away with just a slap on the wrist. Of course I should take it into consideration that it was 1988, so it’s quite a jump from these days. But things are definitely different now. These days you have to suffer harsh consequences, for guns tend to bring in the law. It’s not a joking matter, which is how the school kind of saw it, or maybe just the students, but anyhow I don’t get it. Just a suspension? That’s it? I don’t believe it.
By the way, what’s with the two jock athletes who are always wanting to fight? But then one of them is all like, “No way, we’re seniors now.” Until of course someone gives them an excuse. Those characters: Kurt Kelly (Lance Fenton) and Ram (Patrick Labyorteaux), have got some serious issues. Troublemakers they are gonna grow up to be I tell ya. It’s sad that we all can say we have seen and heard of guys like Kurt and Ram, even to this day. Menaces to society. Only love and understanding will help to open minds of those with little knowledge of the world. Something we all could use in our lifetimes, for “love is the answer” as they say.
At the time of its making, Heathers didn’t get the recognition it deserved until later. But it is a cult classic worth remembering regardless. It was ranked number 412 on Empire‘s list of “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time”, and in 1990 it won the Independent Spirit Award for “Best First Feature”. Such deserving accomplishments indeed. All in all, I give this movie 8/10 stars.
Directed by Michael Lehmann
Produced by Denise Di Novi
Written by Daniel Waters
Music by David Newman
Distributed by New World Pictures
Release date: October 1988 (Italy)
March 31, 1989 (United States)