Directed By: Michael Lehmann
Written By: Daniel Waters
I grabbed this movie off the shelf during a post-Christmas shopping day at the store. It was reasonably priced and I felt it was a movie that belonged in the collection. I am a fan of dark comedies and this is a classic dark comedy. This one was original when it came out; twenty four years later it seems like a story that has been played out in a variety of ways. The most immediate example that comes to mind is Tina Fey‘s Mean Girls. I remember it being a popular movie when it came out but all I saw was a cheap knock off of this movie with Lindsay Lohan in it. There are other examples that out there as well but most of those movies are ones I never took the time to watch. This movie is original and dark in all the ways none of the others ever had the balls to pull off, and ways that simply wouldn’t be accepted today.
This is a movie that plays to the extremes but that is what makes it memorable. It takes a world we all went through at one point or another and gets crazy with it. It says something about our society within the madness too. It goes to the extremes but it says something about conformity and about bullying. Veronica Sawyer is an interesting character because she seems to be different yet she is still part of the “Heathers.” She too is a conformer and bully as she goes along with the mean things they do, but she changes everything all the same. J.D. was just the man to come along and enlighten her but he is much darker than Veronica realizes until it is too late. He seems like the wild and free spirited rebel at first but the farther things go the more we see that he is simply crazy and out of control. I think his role reversal conversations with his father are really interesting and are probably a major contributing factor to his persona.
This movie came out in the era of Winona Ryder and I hate that things went downhill for her over time. I have always been a fan of hers and really wished she could have offered us more over the last decade. All her greatest roles seem to be played with such an effortless quality that maybe she was simply a pretty face. The effortless performances that come to mind are Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. I never saw her Oscar winning performance in Girl, Interrupted but it should have opened up so many opportunities for her and simply didn’t. I think she is a gorgeous actress though and miss what she brought to the films she was in. I don’t mind Christian Slater but I wouldn’t say I was ever really a fan. He has always seemed to be trying to emulate Jack Nicholson and I’m not really a big fan of Jack either. I like Slater in this role though. As JD he fits the part well, interesting enough to catch the eye of a popular girl and unhinged just enough to still manipulate her into what he wants before going off the deep end.
This movie would never fly today because there is simply no place in our society for a movie this dark. A dark comedy today about school massacres and teen suicide just wouldn’t work. We have all lived through too many tragedies at this point to tolerate something like this. That’s part of what I like about this movie though because it gives us a window into a different time. A time when all of this was acceptable. This movie came out when this kind of behavior wasn’t so rampant it was practically forbidden to film. Also a time when actors were still allowed to casually smoke on screen and it not be an issue. I like that about this movie and what it tells us about how things have changed.
This movie is a classic and all classics are worth your time to see. This is a dark comedy and as I have said before these movies aren’t for everyone. If you usually enjoy them then you should definitely take some time to see this one because you probably won’t see any other like it. No remakes for this one are ever going to be brought up during a discussion among execs at a movie studio.