Aug 7, 2015

[Movies] Clueless (1995)

This was another of those, "why haven't I written a review for this movie yet" moments, which of course happens for most movies that are older than the Geeky Guide itself. But hey, I have the rest of the "life" of this blog to try and catch up on posting reviews for movies of this nature. I'm not too optimistic about actually catching up one day, but I'll get as close as I can.

But yeah, this blog totally needs some space dedicated to the ever-classic Clueless. As much as this started as a movie I ended up watching because my sister wanted to see it, the end result was years of knowing that I could totally gag with a spoon because AS IF.

This movie started a string of clever female-oriented movies based on classical literature. And while this wasn't the absolute first movie to do the whole modern update of a classic piece of literature deal, But the movie certainly handled it well and the end result is quite the amazing classic - at least within the circles I move around in.

Synopsis: Clueless is a 1995 comedy written and directed by Amy Heckerling. The screenplay was loosely based on the Jane Austen novel, Emma, but is instead set in Beverly Hills.

Cherilyn "Cher" Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is an attractive, popular, wealthy, and rather shallow. But else can you expect given her father Mel (Dan Hedaya), a highly successful litigator who pretty much gives Cher anything that she desires. Her best friend is Dionne (Stacey Dash) and is similarly shallow and wealthy. She has a boyfriend in the form of Murray (Donald Faison), although Cher doesn't see the point. Cher also has an older ex-stepbrother, Josh (Paul Rudd), who is a lot more serious and is already in college.

We see how Cher gets her way in life by the careful manipulation of others like getting two teachers to fall in love in order to improve her grades and the odd decision to "adopt" the tragically unhip new girl at school. And while she seems to have generally good intentions to some degree about most of what she does, she also ends up making things worse than they were before. And such complications are where the real heart of the movie lies as Cher decides to make herself better.

On the surface, the movie feels terribly silly and all the Valley Girl catch phrases that manage to work their way into this movie really define things in this manner. But beyond the surface fluff, the original story of Emma really is at the heart of this movie and you can catch yourself going to weird intersections where other stuff seems to get in the way.

What the movie actually has is a lot of clever, memorable dialog - and this is what helped make the movie such a success. Sure, you have a lot of pretty people in it, but the movie is more about Cher's little journey. And thus we definitely have to thank Alicia Silverstone for bringing this character to life in such a distinct and memorable way. I'm pretty sure that movies like Legally Blonde owe a bit of a debt of gratitude to this movie.

So what can we say about Alicia Silverstone? I sometimes wonder if the success of this movie did her more harm than good. Sure, she was amazing actress in this movie and this was quite the performance of a lifetime. At the same time, I think we always saw her as Cher to some degree in all her subsequent movie projects. It's not quite typecasting in itself, but it's just so hard to imagine her being any other sort of character because she was just so good here.

The movie probably feels more than a little dated by now given all the expressions and catch phrases that are probably not in use. But at the same time it's also an odd glimpse of a different era, enough though the movie in itself is an effort to provide an update for an older story. It's a weird exercise in exposure to a classic tale dressed up in a different movie experience, but it all works.

Clueless is one of those movies that I don't mind watching again and again at this point and I probably know more of the dialog than I'm willing to admit. But there's still something for everyone here who enjoys having a good time with a movie.

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