I think we can all agree that this is the best teen comedy ever made, followed very closely by Mean Girls. This film captures so well what it was like to be in high school.
Clueless revolves around Beverly Hills teenager, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), and her life in high school. The film is set in two parts, the first third is spent watching Cher attempt to improve her grades at school by fixing two of her teachers up and the rest of the movie, we see Cher take a young out of towner (Brittany Murphy) under her wing as she attempts to make her popular. I think this film’s most impressive feat is making Cher relatable. She is a vapid Californian valley girl, yet director Amy Heckerling has somehow found a way to make the audience love her. The film has a lot of sweetness about it, although Cher is usually looking out for herself, her heart is usually in the right place, making it very easy to like her.
This is a hilarious movie and Alicia Silverstone plays her role so well. When this film first came out, she was hailed as the next big thing. Her career didn’t hit the kind of highs everyone expected, but it cannot be denied that she is fantastic in this. I have a feeling that it is because she was playing a character so close to herself. When she tried to play roles that were further away from Cher, she tended to struggle. This makes me think the reason she was so good as Cher was because she was basically playing herself. Nevertheless, she is the star of this movie and owns the role of Cher so well. Her debate speech on immigration is classic, it’s one of my favourite scenes in film.
Silverstone is ably supported by her cast. An ageless Paul Rudd (seriously, he hasn’t aged a day since this film came out) is charming and funny as her ex-stepbrother/love interest. Stacey Dash is a lot of fun as Cher’s best friend, Dionne (this is despite the fact that Dash was pushing 30 when this film came out). Cher’s dad is played by Dan Hedaya, he is great as a scary lawyer and has some of the best lines in the film. There are some great young actors who went onto bigger things after this movie, JDs best friend Turk (Donald Faison) also appears as Dionne’s on again/off again boyfriend. This was one of his earliest roles and he is great as her insensitive boyfriend Murray, and Breckin Meyer (Road Trip) appears as class clown and stoner, Travis. Rounding out the cast is Wallace Shawn (the voice of Rex in Toy Story and Vizzini in The Princess Bride) as Cher’s debate teacher whom she sets up with Miss Geist, another teacher at Cher’s school, to try and improve her grades.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, this film is great. It really captures high school life so well, despite the fact it is set in the unreal land of Beverly Hills. I laugh whenever I watch Clueless, which is pretty regularly.
So, okay. This is pretty much the best teen movie ever made. And you can take my word for this because I am not a virgin and I can totally drive. It’s just as funny and endearing today as it was 19 years ago (omg… let that sink in), in large part due to Amy Heckerling’s excellent writing and direction, and the memorable performances given by the cast.
Clueless is probably one of my favorite movies. It’s added so much to my lexicon: the use of “as if,” referring to hot guys a Baldwins, and my personal favorite– describing someone as a “total Monet.” Gotta love an art history reference made by a Valley girl. I also remember a small window of time when I wanted to dress like the cast, albeit the television series cast (I didn’t see the movie until 1998ish). There was a lot of awesome plaids in both.
But the real heart of the movie is its characters. It would be so easy to make a movie about rich Beverley Hills kids and have them all be very unlikable. Yet, the only person here that is even slightly annoying is Amber, and even she’s delightful to watch. Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is rich and popular, but she also has a big heart. She may be shallow and clueless at the beginning, but by the end she’s learned a lot of important lessons, like “tis a far far better thing doing stuff for other people”– like, actually doing stuff for other people that doesn’t secretly benefit yourself– and sometimes you just have to accept people for who they are without wanting to “improve” them. Her friends, Dionne (Stacey Dash) and Tai (Brittany Murphy), follow her around like lemmings at the beginning, but come into their own as their confidence builds through their friendships. Stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd) is a serious college student who eventually learns to loosen up thanks to Cher. Even her teachers find love under Cher’s wing, in what is probably the most adorable use of manipulation ever conceived.
By the end of Clueless everyone seems much happier in their own skin. It’s as if they’ve all decided to make over their souls, which is the best make over one can undertake. I know something like The Breakfast Club is probably more realistic to actual high school life, but like, who cares? I’d rather laugh at high school than be reminded how terrible it actually is.