Sunday, 21 September 2014

'Heathers' vs 'Jawbreaker'

Greetings again readers! As you can tell, I've wasted no time in diving straight into holiday mode, as I've already managed to binge-watch some ultimate cult classics over the past few days. Because really, what is a holiday break without some serious one-on-one laptop time? Today, I thought I'd not only settle a major movie debate, but also ensure my piece of mind by comparing the 80's classic 'Heathers' to 90's black comedy 'Jawbreaker'. Having seen both of these films in the past week, and in turn, done some major googling on both films, it has come to my attention that these flicks are often compared. I guess it's not exactly a secret that 'Jawbreaker' drew quite a bit of inspiration from 'Heathers', however are they totally interchangeable like everyone says they are? I guess we'll have to settle that now.

First off, I feel it's only fair to look at both of these films in a little more detail.

Heathers (1988)

Director: Michael Lehmann

Writer: Daniel Waters

Plot: The movie begins as we are introduced to the most popular and influential clique at Westerburg High School, consisting of 3 girls who share the first name; the leader Heather Chandler (Kim Walker), bulimic Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty) and cheerleader Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk). The group also includes recent member Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), who despite her recent increase in popularity, longs to return once more to her old, genuine group of friends. Early on, Veronica meets love interest Jason "J.D" Dean (Christian Slater) and the two hit it off right away. 

However, the plot thickens when Veronica and J.D's plan to embarrass Heather Chandler turns horribly wrong and she ends up dying as a result, the two faking a suicide note for her. Although they've clearly got away with it, the two continue on their murderous rampage as a result of J.D's trickery and Veronica decides that she doesn't want to be a part of it any longer. The tension heightens, the drama escalates before it all results in a truly explosive ending (pun intended for those of you who've seen the film). 

Jawbreaker (1999)

Director: Darren Stein

Writer: Darren Stein

Plot: The film starts as we meet the crème de la crème of Reagan High, a handful of girls referred to as the 'Flawless Four'. The group includes leader Courtney Shayne (Rose McGowan), Marcie "Foxy" Fox (Julie Benz), Julie Freeman (Rebecca Gayheart) and the Princess Di of the school Elizabeth "Liz" Purr (Charlotte Ayanna). On the morning of Liz's 17th birthday, Courtney, Marcie and Julie decide to play a prank on her and gag her with a jawbreaker, however this goes terribly wrong when they discover that they've accidentally murdered her in the process.

They attempt to cover it up during the day, however things get complicated when social outcast Fern Mayo (Judy Greer) is sent to drop off Liz's homework at her house after school, and as a result, overhears the girls discussing their accidental murder. To ensure her silence, Courtney offers Fern a position in their exclusive clique just as Julie is beginning to stray, Fern obtaining a new look and persona, now being referred to as 'Vylette'. However, not everything remains peachy keen, when Detective Vera Cruz (Pam Grier) comes in to investigate, and their lies begin to unravel. 

To truly weigh up exactly how similar these two films are, I feel it only fair to list both the similarities and differences between the flicks to truly get this show on the road. 


They both involve an Accidental Murder

Both of these high school black comedies do indeed have a body count. In 'Heathers', Veronica and J.D accidentally murder Queen B Heather Chandler when she wakes up to a cup full of liquid drainer and smashes through a coffee table, and in 'Jawbreaker', Courtney, Julie and Marcie's prank goes terribly awry and their friend Liz ends up choking on a jawbreaker in the boot of a car. 

They both involve the notion of Superficial Friends

Considering both Veronica of 'Heathers' and Fern/Vylette of 'Jawbreaker' are new to both the perks and detriments of popularity, they both discover that when you're at the top, genuine friends are few and far between. The protagonists of both of these tales find this out the hard way, and admittedly, the demonstration of the ruthless high school hierarchy in both films is rather similar. 

Both the Victims stand up to their Tormentors

Sure, they may be in drastically different circumstances, but there's no doubt that both of these girls who have fallen victim to the popular crowd grow a backbone and fight back. In 'Heathers', Veronica manages to stand up to leader Heather Chandler after attending a Remington college party that doesn't go according to plan (before, you know, she ends up killing her), and Julie in 'Jawbreaker' confronts Courtney a number of times over her seriously messed up morals. 

They both deal with the fact that High School and Teenagers Suck

Like any good angsty teen comedy, these movies don't shy away from the fact that high school's no walk in the park. It's all about assignments and pressure and worst of all, social hierarchy. 'Heathers' deals with the perception of teenagers in society, while 'Jawbreaker' hones in on the damage of cliques. Although they tackle the issue in slightly different ways, they're really both just making apparent that being a teenager and going to high school really isn't fun. At all. Ever. 

Both Group Leaders undergo their Demise in the end

Admittedly, in 'Heathers', the demise of Heather Chandler in the form of her death may be a little extreme, but there's no doubting that she was a major dictator deserving of some retribution (plus it sure does make the movie a whole lot more memorable). However, the revenge extracted upon Courtney at the end of 'Jawbreaker' is definitely not too harsh (or possibly, not harsh enough), as she is simply recognised as Liz's killer and humiliated in front of the student body. 


One involves a Murder Spree, while the other Stops at Just One

In 'Heathers', after Veronica and J.D accidentally kill Heather Chandler, they don't just stop there. As a result of J.D's deception, they end up murdering homophobic, dimwitted football players Ram and Kurt as well and make it look like a joint suicide against an 'un-understanding world' and their hesitance to accept the boys' 'forbidden love'. On the other hand, in 'Jawbreaker' after the accidental murder of their friend Liz, Courtney, Marcie and Julie focus on covering up what they've done rather than killing anyone else.

One involves a Love Story, while the other Doesn't

Sure it may be pretty sick and twisted, but there's no doubting that there's a significant element of romance prevalent in 'Heathers'. The villainous power couple are very 'Bonnie and Clyde'-esque, and despite the fact that it's a complete disaster, Veronica and J.D's relationship is one of the central points of the movie. However, in 'Jawbreaker', no such love story of epic proportions is incorporated. 

One focusses on Reinvention, while the other Doesn't 

In 'Jawbreaker', there's one of those quintessential teen movie makeover montages, in which we see nerdy Fern Mayo transform into popular it-girl 'Vylette'. While Veronica in 'Heathers' is familiar with what it's like to be out of the public eye, she was never in need of a major transformation (or if she was, we didn't see it in the movie). 

One heavily hones in on the Mean Girl, while the other only brushes over it

In 'Jawbreaker', throughout the course of the movie, we become very familiar with leader of the 'Flawless Four' Courtney Shayne, and learn all about her superiority complex and seriously questionable morality. Whereas, in 'Heathers', although this element is explored through both Heather Chandler and Heather Duke, the film mainly focusses on Veronica and J.D and their murderous rampage. 

They're clearly Made and Set in different Decades

You may not think that the decade in which a movie is made has that much of an effect on the finished product, however it really does. The clothing, the terminology, the references, it all clearly puts a time stamp on a film. In 'Heathers', it's clear not only by the big hair and shoulder pads, but in a few of the one-liners that it is most definitely an 80's film. 'Jawbreaker' is also defined by its decade, however everything is so clearly 90's, which you can determine by taking a look at all of the fashion and décor. 

That's now officially the end of my comparison between cult classics 'Heathers' and 'Jawbreaker'. In conclusion, I think it's fair to say that although the two films have quite a bit in common, they are still their own separate entities and definitely incorporate different themes and messages. Also, just between you and me, I definitely prefer 'Heathers' to 'Jawbreaker', but hey, that's just me. Til' next time . . .

Annabel xx