A socially inept fourteen year old experiences heartbreak for the first time when his two best friends -- Cappie, an older-brother figure, and Maggie, the new girl with whom he is in love -- fall for each other.
A regular girl, Veronica, tries to survive the social jungle of high school by sticking with the three most popular girls at school who are all called Heather. As she meets a sociopath named JD, her life spirals into a continuous cycle of hate, unintentional murder and indifference, as she exacts revenge on her enemies, also known as her best friends. Written by
Daniel Waters wrote one of the best satires ever in "Heathers", a dark comedy that ranks right up there with "Dr. Strangelove" and "Network". Certainly it's the best teen comedy ever made. Why? Because in spite of its highly stylized depiction of teenagers, it caught the truest essence of what high school is actually like in America. Not only that, it trashed the entire genre and-- in a feat of sheer genius-- even the *reaction* to the genre by outside observers (namely parents). Terry Southern could have done no better.
"Westerburg high school self-destructed not *because* of society but because Westerburg High School *was* society" was restated, to near-universal praise, by Michael Moore in "Bowling For Columbine", but Waters said it before him, said it better, and frankly he's got a lot more credibility ("Hudson Hawk" notwithstanding). The cast is brilliant, even if, strangely, some of them don't seem to get what the whole movie was about. You half expect that most of the cast and crew, like the kids who sign a petition to bring Big Fun to the school for a gig, made a movie they didn't know they were making. But the key figures nailed it-- Ryder and Slater were never better.
"Heathers" is one of the best films of the Eighties-- put the lid on the Eighties, as it were. It has suffered criminal neglect, probably because it may have required an "indie auteur" to really knock the cinematic elements out of the park. The direction is competent but unspectacular. Still, the star is the writing, and Waters deserved an Oscar for this script. Unsentimental, vicious, and above all hilariously funny, he drove a stake through the heart of those oh-so-precious John Hughes films and, at the same time, set the stage for Kevin Williamson and all the rest. He did it with a perfect ear for dialogue combined with a Swiftian vision of social structures, and did it all as an argument *against* ironic detachment, for which this film and its messages needs to be revisited now more than ever. Simply incredible.
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