Monday, December 19, 2016

I’d Love To Turn You On At The Movies #155 – Clueless (1995, dir. Amy Heckerling)

Cher: "It's like that book I read in the 9th grade that said '’tis a far far better thing doing stuff for other people.'"

One might initially take pause at the merits of Clueless and wonder why this film would possibly be worthy of a blog post, and to those people I would have to say, as if! While Clueless is I'm sure relegated to the far-reaching depths of my generation’s nostalgia sector, and people of other generations might not immediately see the merit, this stylish modern day (1995) update of Jane Austin's Emma is truly a 'Baldwin' or 'Betty' of a film. While this is certainly an amazing movie to zone out and munch some popcorn to, I've found upon recent viewing that there is actually more to the simple narrative and bubbly characters than initially meets the eye. So while I feel that the importance of this mid-nineties pop-culture gem is a no brainer, I am delighted to take some time to explain to you why.

So, let's take a step back and survey the story and our hero's and heroine's shall we? The story follows Cher (Alicia Silverstone), an extremely popular and affluent teen, as she navigates some of the more delicate growing experiences of teenage years. She's not that amazing at school, but a crazy good strategist and is able to convince many of her teachers to change her grades for higher marks through her powers of persuasion. She's envied by many and loved by most, but unable to reach the feeling of complete fulfillment with her life. Her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash), also "named after (a) famous singer(s) of the past, who now does infomercials," is also incredibly rich and popular. Cher’s dad is an important litigator (Dan Hedaya), and her step brother, Josh (Paul Rudd), is an intellectual college-radio-loving pre-law student. Cher's life is pretty perfect, driving her Jeep to class and the mall and back home to her McMansion, but as the story unfolds she starts to feel that there is more to life than style and flair. Through attempting to help an 'adorably clueless' new classmate, Tai (Brittany Murphy), Cher is forced to confront a lot of the aspects about herself that she eventually will find much less flattering than initially thought, and she eventually finds love in a rather unlikely place.

While the bottom line of this movie is that it showcases the growth of a somewhat vapid teen into a well-rounded young woman, the real appeal is the light and fun nature of the movie. This is just an enjoyable movie to relax and watch. The dialog, fashion, settings, etc. are so delightfully nineties it's fantastic! While this could easily date this movie, it only serves to increase the charm that is Clueless. Additionally, the soundtrack is chock full of amazing gems of the era. From the obvious - No Doubt, Coolio, The Beastie Boys, and Salt-N-Pepa - to the less so obvious - Radiohead, Supergrass, the Cranberries - the music is utterly classic!

In the end, if you are looking for a fun evening in watching a radically enjoyably silly romp of a movie with an undercurrent of a poignant coming of age plot, this is most certainly the movie for you. If you haven't seen Clueless, allow me to "do something good for mankind" and provide you with an introduction to this splendidly entertaining piece of killer 90's cinema. If you have seen this movie, isn't it about time you picked up a copy and revisited Cher and the crew in Beverly Hills? I so totally think it is! 

- Edward Hill

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