Heathers is the perfect tonic for uplifting and inspiring high school movies in which a group of misfits overcomes adversity and triumphs or when a maverick teacher comes in and helps said misfits overcome adversity and triumph.
High school is a bit like prison, cliques are its gangs and the Heathers’ heads are swelled beyond even the widths of their shoulder pads. But the Heathers rule the roost; they’re the most popular clique in school comprising three Heathers and later a Veronica, a hanger-on looking to earn her patch.
The three are wealthy, attractive and pass the time playing croquet like they’re Connecticut blue-bloods and lord it over their Ohioan brethren.
In the lunch room when, like the state pen, cliques band together for self-preservation, the threesome wreaks havoc on the gang-unaffiliated (the fatty) and the prison bitches (the bespectacled math wizzes).
When the school’s male loner Brando/Dean “JD”, pulls a gun on two jock meathead assailants (the school’s second most powerful gang), it piques the interest of Veronica, the “Heather” with cappo di tutti capi aspirations and self-awareness in spades.
When her group loyalty is tested at a frat party, she decides to exact revenge on one quite hung-over Heather by pouring her an orange juice and milk emetic. JD asks, “why not up the ante with drain cleaner?” Veronica balks, as that’s taking things too far but when the drinks are accidentally swapped, JD stays mum.
The poison death of Heather the First, sets in motion a jock double homicide made to look like a gay lover spat murder suicide, orchestrated by JD and ambivalent accomplice Veronica.
As the body counts rise, the school’s chain-smoking authority figures mull over their options in the teachers’ lounge when one of whom, the school’s resident bleeding heart opines: “when I thoughtfully suggested we get everybody together for an unadulterated emotional outpouring…You took this as an opportunity to play yet another round of ‘Let’s Laugh at the Hippie.'”
Darkly funny and outrageous, Heathers is more important today than ever, as “unadulterated emotional outpourings” are the order of the day; “grief counsellor” surrogates supply succor previously provided by parents.
Pre-Columbine, JD sets his sights higher by blowing up the entire school as Veronica’s “Bonnie and Clyde” loyalty is tested.
Heathers explodes the myth of outsiders as sympathetic figures — when you rebel against everything you rebel against nothing.
**** (out of 5)