Top critical review
on March 19, 2004
You know how there used to be half a dozen Jennifers in every high school class? Well, what we have here are three Heathers (last names: Duke, Chandler and McNamara, if anybody cares) who reign as upper crust sosh queens at Westerberg High, home of the Rottweilers. One of the Heather Rottweilers is Shannen Doherty of TV infamy who seems perfectly cast except for the fact that if she's still in high school, I can play opposite Barbie Doll.
Trying to work her way into their circle is a one-time study-freak with a talent for forging handwriting named Veronica (would that we had Archie and Jughead as well). I mention her penmanship because it's part of the plot, although why they bothered with the fancy foreshadowing I don't know since most of the story is beside the point anyway.
This is a black comedy that takes off on the usual high school teen angst cliches: suicide, rigid social stratification, dumb jocks, dumb parents, dumb administrators, and even dumber teachers. And there are some very funny bits to be had along the way. Unfortunately playing Veronica is Winona Ryder who, although she is as pretty as pretty can be, even sporting a monocle--yes, somebody must have pointed out to director Michael Lehmann that putting nerd-girl glasses on a pretty girl has been done to death, so he had an Inspiration. Ryder has moments--some of them unintentional--but there is no way she can be seen as a comedic actress. We really needed Rene Zellweger or Reese Witherspoon.
Playing opposite Ryder with some finesse is Christian Slater as J.D. Dean, teen psycho, son of Psycho Dad, who explains that he is blowing up the school "because nobody loves me." What really cracked me up about Christian Slater is that "Columbo" voice he sometimes uses. And what I found funny about Winona Ryder were all those outfits with the cutesy hats and leggings. If only they had let her keep them she might have missed her day in court.
Best bit: the two jocks getting their just deserts and the two cops "investigating" the scene.
So bad it was almost good: Veronica getting her cigarette lit by a dynamite explosion.
Like, this could happen: Veronica and Martha "Dumptruck" Dunnstock doing popcorn and old movies together on prom night.
I want to see her do it again, slowly: the Rottweiler cheerleader doing a twirling handstand.
Bottom line: ignore the implausible and send your parents to bed.