Sunday, November 9, 2008

Clueless (1995)

I saw this in a good used DVD deal at Blockbuster and couldn't help myself, because Clueless is awesome and I am rarely not in the mood to watch it. This modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma focuses on privileged Beverly Hills teenager Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and her life as a popular, fashionable student trying, along with her friend Dionne (Stacey Dash) to use her lofty status and considerable persuasive skills to help others, often in the form of matchmaking. She sets up her teachers (Twink Caplan- who also produced- and Wallace Shawn) to secure better grades for her classmates. She spots impressionable new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) and, after a makeover, seeks to set her up with hot shot Elton (Jeremy Sisto). She even tries to snag a man herself when slick Christian (Justin Walker) rolls into town James Dean-style. When not busybodying she hangs around the house with her snarky ex-stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd), a college student helping her lawyer father (Dan Hedaya) with a case. Of course ultimately her matchmaking and makeovering backfire, and we learn that even rich people have to deal with regular teenager problems. But everyone finds love in the end!

As shallow as it seems at first glance, it is actually a very smart and funny adaptation of a classic story. The characters are exaggerated for satirical effect, but still manage to be relatable. The cast is swell, with most of the teen characters actually played by young adults. Amy Heckerling wrote a wonderful script, with great interactive dialogue (especially, of course, any conversation with Paul Rudd), plus the 90's lingo and fashion are always fun in retrospect. There are jokes about art (Claes Oldenburg, he's way famous!) and jazz music (Do you like Billie Holiday? I love him!) and cosmetic surgery (She died when she was young- a freak accident during a routine liposuction). There are people of different lifestyles and backgrounds. It doesn't shatter teen-comedy standards or cause any great revelations, but it's a really enjoyable, easy-to-watch movie with a very sweet center.

4.5/5

In the 4 years since I wrote this Clueless has turned into one of my absolute favorite movies, so it's easily a 5/5 by now. Maybe I should write a better review of it. Some day...

My original poster design for this film is for sale.

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