Buffy cares only for herself, learning the values of the American Me Generation. Until she learns that she has been chosen for something far greater, and that there are things of far more import in this world than wearing what is retro, and avoiding what is five minutes ago. While hopefully the viewer finds humor throughout the movie, they also can be challenged to reevaluate who they are, and what they consider life to be. The unexamined life is not worth living- but neither is the unlived life. Does not the best of humor point to something beyond? Does it not call us to be something more than we are? This movie does that.
The writing is excellent, the acting good- especially by Donald Sutherland and Peewee Herman. If you rent it, you'll enjoy it. I'd stake my life on it.
The plot is a little thin, and sad, but the actors do a totally rad job of not depressing the audience just because they're too damn old to be in High School. The effects are mostly physical and a bit stiffly choreographed considering that 90% of all the vamps come off as disposable stunt-persons. That's my one major beef with the movie. That the baddies aren't very convincing. That Buffy's ex-best friend and ex-boyfriend can make out in a parked car, with the top down, less than 6 feet away from snarling, clawing vampires on either side of the lot fence, and not even notice... Yeah, like I said, thin on plot.
What it's rich in, however, is character development. And not quite like on that stupid TV show either. When actors in this movie are being snooty and quippy, they give it all they've got. And that's worth something, in the name of satire. On TV, it's just annoying. Buffy undergoes a certain transformation. She realizes that she is too good to devalue herself by hanging out with a group of sheepish friends who are slaves to popular trends, and don't really care about anything. She learns some very valuable lessons, and comes out fighting all the way. Granted, the extent of the circumstances she faces are slim. But, for a teenager who has to deal with school and boys and parents AND vampires- all at the same time...
It's okay. The performances, lent something credible by the casting of well-respected Donald Sutherland and Rutger Hauer. Luke Perry is actually kind of cute and endearing in this film. Paul Reubens is a RIOT as the sidekick who takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin', even after he's staked in the heart, in a really funny prolonged death scene. Both Ricki Lake and Ben Affleck appear in unbilled roles as a waitress and a basketball player.
And let's talk about Hilary Swank for a second. If any actress was about to win a major award for playing the part of a valley girl- it's Hilary. She was born to play this role, and for this to catapult her to a real acting career. I was always surprised that Kristy Swanson never seemed to be doing much after this film... It seemed like she was about to make a comeback with memorable parts in both Dude Where's My Car(?) and Big Daddy. Alas, she's gone quiet again.
And I very much loved the music soundtrack. Matthew Sweet, The Divinyls, Susanna Hoffs, Ozzy Osbourne, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and the awesome "Keep it Comin' (Dance Till You Can't Dance No More)" from C+C Music Factory. There's just a certain magic about this movie. And who could ever forget that famous line, "you broke up with my machine?!"