R, 1 hr. 42 min. Directed By: Michael Lehmann. Release Date: Jun 1, 1988. DVD Release Date: Mar 30, 1999.
There are occasionally moments in movies where I laugh and I know I shouldn’t: the one scene that I reference most often in this blog is the scene from Pulp Fiction where John Travolta accidentally shoots the guy he has held at gunpoint in the back seat of a moving vehicle as it hits a speed bump. There are lots of others, although few are coming to mind right now.
The ones that are immediately coming to my attention are all from Heathers. In many ways, the movie defines the dark comedy genre and has earned its role as a 80s cult classic. I’m not sure why it came to the attention of so many professional critics, because there isn’t much I find to be really redeeming about it, although I do find it nine kinds of entertaining.
It’s been… more than a decade since I watched this movie the first time, and now, I think the cast is a little dated. Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, and Shannen Dougherty (who is STILL riding the coattails of her increasingly faded 90210 fame) smack so much of the time that it’s hard for me to take the movie all that seriously. Of the three, only one deserved the fame she acquired, and for me, that’s Winona Ryder. Sure, she’s evolved into a crazy lady that steals Estee Lauder perfumes from her local Woolworth, but back then she had some very good roles under her belt. I’ve never liked Christian Slater. The only movies that he’s been involved with where I’ve not really hated his presence were Heathers and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Oh, I guess I didn’t hate him in Interview With the Vampire, but in my defense, he was only in it for like four scenes, and then Tom Cruise eats him, so it’s all good.
But really, there are a lot of reasons in this movie not to laugh, and I always feel a little bad that I laugh myself silly every time I see this movie: just about everything involving Martha Dumptruck (I can never remember her real last name) is horrible, and I laugh. I laugh when they set up Rom and that other football player in the woods. I laugh when the first Heather goes face first into the coffee table. I actually laugh a lot at that scene. I can laugh when we see Winona Ryder smoke, when she drinks, when she rolls into the sack with Slater at first meeting, and when she calls her dad an idiot. I’d kill my child for any one of those infractions, and I’m laughing at her for doing it.
Somewhere, karma is laughing at me. This is one of the many reasons why I’m leery of the idea of cursing the world with my spawn.
Despite all that, I’d recommend this movie in a heartbeat. It is funny, even if you should say a few Hail Marys for every bit of laughter, and quite frankly, I loved the 80s as much, if not more, than I loved the 90s, and Heathers represents a wonderful regression to those happy days. If you haven't seen it yet, you should.