The mother of all teenage comedies, the funniest of them all, Clueless (1995) is both witty and sweet in an kitsch, oversugared, Barbie-like way. Alicia Silverstone, who, as far as I remember, was a big hit in 1995 when Clueless was produced, plays Cher – way over-privileged, spoiled daughter of an LA lawyer. Sure of her well-deserved high position on the high-school social scene, Cher is one of the most popular girls who, in a series of hilarious background narrations, takes us through the reality of 90s teen life.
In fact, this is a ‘reality’ that is heavily parodied by director Amy Heckerling – everything in the movie is unreal, twisted and exaggerated. Ridiculous clothing, ridiculous dialogues and well…ridiculous teenage LA’s cream of the corps’ problems. Cher, who frequently visits the mall to ‘get inspiration and regain strength’ is best friends with Dionne (Stacey Dash) (They ‘were both named after famous singers of the past, who now do infomercials’.). The fight for popularity isn’t easy in a cruel world of 15 year olds and Cher finds herself a project in order to change her appearance into a kinder teen (‘Would you call me selfish? – she asks Dionne worriedly – ‘No. Not to your face.’)
A new girl shows up in school – one that is not fashionable, has an interest in dodgy boys and drugs and, in general, is ‘clueless’. Her makeover becomes Dionne’s and Cher’s new project. A project that gets out of hand. In the meantime Cher plays a matchmaker, dates a gay boy (who ‘had a thing for Tony Curtis so he brought over Some Like it Hot (1959) and ‘Sporadicus’’), and falls in love with her step-brother. But these are all different stories.
Clueless is a gold mine of memorable quotes and for the 90s references, and these never get old! Christian Slater movies in the cinema, Menthos commercials on TV, frequent mentions of Luke Perry, Kenny G, and the beginning of cellular phones (‘He’s asking for her digits!’) – they warm your heart. Moreover, there are the conversations filled with the legendary ‘Hellos’, ‘Whatevers’, ‘As ifs’, followed by ‘Solid’, ‘I dig’ and other outrageous vocabulary. I was 11 when I watched it for the first time and I just now realized that I learned some of these catchphrases from this very movie!
There are many actors in Clueless, who later became popular Paul Rudd, Brittany Murphy, Donald Faison and Silverstone herself. Of them all, only Alicia and Stacey play badly, really badly, but let’s hope that the director asked them to be unnatural to make the characters even more comical. It wasn’t until maybe two or three years later, when I first read Jane Austen’s Emma, and I realized that the plot seemed familiar. Then I looked back at my video tapes, watched Clueless again, and realised it wasn’t only a funny parody of a teenage drama, but also an adaptation of Austen’s novel. Cudos to the director for mixing those, and succeeding in both.