I wasn’t quite sure what to watch today, so I went onto IMDb to look for inspiration, and I stumbled across a list of 100 films to see before you die. One of the movies on the list was Clueless, which suddenly reminded me of my high school theater class, where a girl performed a monologue from this movie. I had made a mental note to check out this film after class, and I remember reading about it being a cult classic, but I never actually watched the movie. Until today.
Inspired by Jane Austen’s novel Emma, Clueless is a romantic comedy about Cher (Alicia Silverstone), an ultra-materialistic, spoiled Valley girl who actually lives in Beverly Hills with her wealthy lawyer dad. She, along with her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash), are the most popular girls at Bronson Alcott High School, where they rarely study and instead negotiate their way to getting good grades. Most of the time, they focus their attention on fashion and romance, even being matchmakers for their teachers. When the two of them meet the new girl Tai (Brittany Murphy), who doesn’t seem to have a clue on how to dress or be “popular,” Cher decides to give Tai a makeover and teach her how to be the center of attention. Everything seems to be going well until Tai overtakes Cher in popularity and Cher realizes they may be liking the same guy (Paul Rudd). It is then that Cher realizes she is clueless about everything in her life and that she may have some serious thinking to do.
It’s been a while since I’ve watched a teenage-centered rom com, so it was fun to watch something that made me remember the days when I obsessed over teenage chick flicks like What a Girl Wants and A Cinderella Story. However, Clueless is very different, mainly because of its satirical nature. Clueless isn’t simply about teenage romance; it also pokes fun at the materialism and superficiality that permeates teenage culture in the US. Much of that is accomplished through the dialogue, which can be quite hilarious. For example, when asked what she did at school today, Cher responds, “Broke in my purple clogs.” And when one of Cher’s classmates tries to escape having to play tennis in PE class, her excuse is, “My plastic surgeon doesn’t want me doing activities where balls fly at my nose.” There are many nuggets of gold in this cleverly written screenplay that takes a jab at teens and growing up.
Clueless was also backed by a strong cast. Alicia Silverstone perfectly captures the ironically seductive yet innocent nature of her character, and Stacey Dash and Brittany Murphy both also serve up great performances as Cher’s friends. The movie was also essentially a fashion show – it doesn’t surprise me that Clueless has inspired the wardrobe choices of its viewers.
Overall, Clueless was an enjoyable watch. Despite following a plot typical of other films in its genre, it manages to stand out through its cleverly satirical and funny dialogue, which shows this movie is so much more than simple teenage drama.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Director: Amy Heckerling
Writer: Amy Heckerling
Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Donald Faison, Dan Hedaya
Run time: 1 hr 37 min