Gently, with a chain saw

Heathers is a high school fantasy of death and destruction in a nice-to-your-face sort of clique dominated by well-to-do girls named Heather.

It would hard to get this film made these days. Heck, it was hard to get made when it was, but now it might be nigh impossible. The theme is more along the lines of suicide, but there's enough of a resemblance to the Columbine High School scenario in Colorado, it just wouldn't fly.

The tone here is one of overblown exaggeration - characters are set up as the extreme versions of their well known stereotypes.

The opening is cute, but either doesn't fit or isn't explained well enough to fit... It's trying to set a specific tone for the start, but something we'd be less incredulous about should have been done instead.

The script itself is darkly witty and clever, but a bit too eager to get on with the plot. The style the filmmakers are going for calls for a certain zip to it, but it goes a smidge fast even for that.

The best thing Heathers has going for it is the dialog. How can you go wrong with lines like "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?" or "If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn't be a human being. You'd be a game- show host." I'm particularly fond of what Veronica's parents say. The plot almost feels like a construction to hang all these lovely words on. I'm not ragging on the plot that much, really. It's just that, for all the irreverent, subversive aims of the plot, they would not be accomplished without the words to provide the context.

We have Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, and Shannon Doherty in early roles for each of them, among other relatively unknowns for the time. Slater's performance is an interesting one, sometimes a little blatantly Nicholson-esque. The real amazing thing is that the dialog, while largely over the top and therefore playable by a piece of plastic, only occasionally isn't delivered believably.

Most people will love or hate this movie - one of those with a lack of middle ground. I do have some reservations on its worthiness as a whole movie, but the weaknesses of the film are largely swallowed up by its style, which is quite a trick. If you are the sort who can look past the complete lack of political correctness, this one will be worth the viewing.

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