Girls Just Want to Have Fun [1985]

HeathersThis dark comedy from 1989 was a good showcase for Winona Ryder, playing a high school girl brought into a clique of bitchy classmates (all named Heather), and Christian Slater, doing his early Jack Nicholson thing. While Ryder's character muddles over the consequences of giving up one set of friends for another, her association with a new boy (Slater) in school turns out to have deadly consequences. Director Michael Lehmann turned this unusual film into something more than another teen-death flick. There is real wit and sharp satire afoot, and the very fusion of horror and comedy is provocative in itself. Heathers remains a kind of benchmark in contemporary cinema for bringing surreal intelligence into Hollywood films. --Tom Keogh Soul Man Both underrated and overrated in its day, this 1986 comedy now looks like a clever, non-politically-correct snappy satire with moments of penetrating observation and strong acting. C. Thomas Howell plays an affluent white kid, Mark, admitted to Harvard Law School but denied tuition by his father. In desperation, he applies for a scholarship reserved for African-American students and gets the money, leaving him with the problem of adjusting his skin color. With a few cosmetic changes, Mark becomes the black equivalent of Dustin Hoffman's female alter ego in Tootsie: an intruder in the world of his opposite. Suddenly the target of casual, everyday racism on campus, verbal assaults from powerful, paranoid white men (Leslie Nielsen has a good dramatic role), and pressure to carry the legacy of black progress in America, Mark's consciousness is raised quite rapidly. James Earl Jones is exquisite as a law professor with high expectations. --Tom Keogh Girls Just Want to Have Fun Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt dance their way through Girls Just Want to Have Fun, a glorious example of 1980s kitsch. Janey (Parker), the new girl at a Catholic high school in Chicago, dreams of becoming a dancer on Dance TV. With the help of new wave hipster Lynne (Hunt), Janey enters a dance contest and gets paired with Jeff (Lee Montgomery), a rebel in spandex, and the two are soon smitten with each other. Unfortunately, they've made an enemy of a snooty rich girl, who vows to take them down. Everything about Girls Just Want to Have Fun is cheap and cheesy--it doesn't even have the Cyndi Lauper version of the title song--but that doesn't make it any less goofily entertaining, particularly when a debutante ball is wrecked by a bizarre combination of punk rockers and female bodybuilders. Featuring a very young Shannen Doherty as Jeff's little sister. --Bret Fetzer

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