Sunday, September 4, 2011

Crazy 80's Project: Heathers

Michael Lehmann's Heathers, is, without a doubt, one of the sharpest, scathing--not to mention most ambitious--films the high school/coming of age comedy subgenre has ever seen. Not content to merely be a film about navigating the tricky sea that is high school, Heathers is also an explosive combination of black comedy, Bonnie & Clyde-style examination of love and social commentary ("Suicide (Don't Do It)"). To say it's an ambitious film is an understatement, but, to it's credit, Heathers nails it far more often than it misses. Lehmann has a keen eye for details and visual gags, which immediately separates it from nearly every other high school comedy ever made. The screenplay from Daniel Waters has its own undefinable cadence that in ways reminded me of both Tennessee Williams and Diablo Cody; Williams in how the actors must speak with a certain stylization otherwise it all falls flat and Cody in how, whether you like it or not, you wouldn't mistake the writing for anyone else. While this makes the screenplay more intriguing, it's also where most of the film's problems lay. First of all, Heathers has such a strange stylization, it takes a good twenty minutes to get into the rhythm of how the film will flow. While I suppose it would be easier to understand on a second go-around, I must confess it threw me for such a loop I had a hard time getting into it. Secondly, the dialogue is so on-the-nose, stars Winona Ryder and Christian Slater fall flat about a quarter of the time. There's no way I would ever classify them as bad by any stretch of the imagination, and they both have ace moments that prove their worth, but I was a tad disappointed by them. Again, I wager a second viewing of the film is in order for it all to click, but I found the few loose ends far too distracting to overlook in favor of Heathers' strong points. B+

1 comment:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I find it so hard to watch this now considering how awful Slater's career is now. I think he's pretty much ace in this, shame he couldn't keep it up.