“What’s Your Damage?” One of the greatest taglines for a movie. Heathers is one of the best 80’s movies ever. It is the original Mean Girls movie. Only so much better. Its so funny but with a darker edge. I am huge fan of dark comedy, and this is a fantastic example of a truly dark comedy.
The plot premise is the levels of high school popularity and the gain and loss of power. Instead of just losing titles of popularity through humiliation, the Heathers lose their power through death….well at least one of them. This is why it is more epic than Mean Girls.
That is not to say I condone murdering the popular kids to gain popularity. NO! NEVER EVER THINK THAT IS THE ANSWER! It is more of the perspective that the movie puts on high school cliques and popularity. It shows how ridiculous it can get. Also how extreme people get. Granted the writers and directors over exaggerate this point in their portrayal of radical teen, JD.
He is the boy that captures, Heather-but-non-Heather, Veronica Sawyer’s heart. Because he is so smooth and independent, Veronica lets his rebellious views of society grab her attention and fuel her inspiration to dethrone the Heathers. She quickly sees; however, how far and to what lengths JD is willing to go to destroy the high school “experience”.
But enough about the plot. Not only is it a great story, the script is brilliant. It has fantastic one liners and brilliant development. The lines have been ingrained into society. “What’s your damage?” is one of the most famous lines from this movie and it is still used today to question why a person is acting insane. And Heather Chandler’s final words are just perfection in her soul utterance of “CORN-NUTS!” as she crashes into a glass table. Sheer brilliance! It is a smart script with very quipy lines such as Heather McNamara’s line “If I take a meat cleaver to the middle of your skull, I would have two symmetrical halves, and that is very important to me.” The lines just flow seamlessly together to weave a very darkly humorous but smart story.
I also love how visually pleasing this movie is. From the costumes, too the visual effects, its aesthetic is beautiful. The choice of playing with colors for meaning in the movie is perfect. Each of the Heathers have their signature color that mildly represents a piece of themselves. Heather Chandler was always red: red clothes, red bow, red lipstick, and red croquet ball. It signified her as the leader since red is a color of power. But not only did it signify her power it also let us know she had a very short fuse as red is also the color of anger. Heather Duke’s choice color was green, even though she longed to be red every game of croquet. Green symbolized her deep seeded envy to be Heather Chandler. And the minute she gained power, she immediately states “I’m RED!” Yellow is the color of Heather McNamara. Yellow is the color of happiness and kindness, and Heather M. was the nicest of all the Heathers. She was basically Switzerland she did not get involved in the drama caused by the Heathers in anyway shape or form. She was basically there because she had money and good looks and was genuinely nice. But yellow is also, coincidentally, the color of greed according to the 7 deadly sins (I know we usually associate greed with green but not in this case). Heather McNamara’s father was the richest guy in town and all she ever wanted to do was shop. Finally there is Veronica. Her color was blue. Blue is typically associated with loyalty and intelligence. Ironically, through circumstances she creates with JD’s help, she is not loyal to the Heathers. But in reverse she is loyal to the people who are being belittled and controlled by the Heathers. Her intellect is vast. She journals everyday wearing a monocle. Her vocabulary is extensive, she is a pro at forgery, and knowing people around her through observation. Blue was the perfect choice to make for her costumes, in order to make a vivid point of disconnectedness from the Heathers.
There are some great special effects in this movie to complement the piece as a whole. And no it is not and action move but there is a great explosion at the end. No spoilers! The dream sequences are also fantastic. They are filmed slightly more vibrantly colored than other shots in the movie but they are not quite as sharp. There is a bit of a haze to them, a smokey feel, if you will. There are also some physical effects that just make you say, “how did they do that.” (no spoilers again.) It makes the movie that much more fun to watch.
The music is great as well, but I am going to divert for a second from the movie to the recently closed stage musical of Heathers. THIS RECORDING IS LIFE! Ok, back to the movie. At this current moment, I can’t recall any song from the movie except the opening and ending credit version of “Que Sera Sera.” I find this song to be amazingly poignant for this film. It is not the Doris Day version, but it is the same lyrics. If you don’t know the song look it up on YouTube. The song discusses growing up and just taking life on as it comes. What a great way to foreshadow from the get go with “Whatever will be will be.”
Needless to say, this is one of my favorite movies. I love to watch it, and be so grateful my high school experience was not like it at all. If you love 80’s movies, Wynona Rider, croquet, and want to see the original Mean Girls, then “What’s your damage?” GO WATCH HEATHERS! It’s very, VERY.