Friday, March 6, 2009

Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995)

Reinventing the way words are uttered and clothes are worn for an entire generation of open-minded men and stylish women, Clueless remains the pinnacle of teen cinema. Bubbling over with every conceivable colour in the known universe and sporting life lessons of a synergetic nature, the film, written and directed by the super-cute Amy Heckerling, deftly mixes the moronic with the profound, as it follows the adolescent ups and downs of one the most engaging and complex characters to ever grace the screen that I watch stuff on. The exalted character I'm referring to is, of course, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), the patron saint of unintentional magnificence. An angelic shopaholic in strappy heels, a stem exposing humanitarian, if you will, who aimlessly transverses the trendy quagmire that is Beverly Hills, California, Cher is an inspiration to all those who are willing to look fabulous on the outside, while oozing a social conscious on the inside. This agreeableness manages to shine through despite the fact she appears to be an overly shallow, uninformed brat, and that her father (the occasionally hilarious Dan Hedaya) makes money off the misery of others. You see, in most movies, Cher would be the villain, a vixenish hosebeast bent on destroying the integrity of some plucky brunette. But in this strange, rearwardly universe, the vacuous prevail.

It's not an opinion set in stone, but I'd say Cher is the closest cinematic representation to what I consider to be absolute perfection when it comes to teenage adolescence. Sure, she might have a couple of flaws here and there, but it's those little blemishes that make her so appealing as a character. So much so that my central nervous system melts whenever she puts the words "as" and "if" together. Displaying no talent whatsoever when it comes to operating a motor vehicle, yet exhibiting a world-weary gumption when it comes to deciding what kind of juicy cock she wants sporadically traveling through the rarely visited confines of her special area, Cher is not only a fashion icon, she also helps the less fortunate find romance.

This selfless desire to find other people dates is the nitty-gritty of Cher's plight, as she neglects her own dating needs to her detriment. The film's title actually refers to her incompetence when comes to her own romantic instincts, not her intelligence. Which is lacklustre from a scholastic point of view, but judging from an unconventional plain of existence, Cher is one smartest characters I've come across in years.

Anyway, while secretly motivating middle-aged teachers to fuck and giving makeovers to new students who dress like farmers, Cher discovers that her gaydar is nonexistent and that Josh (the absolutely dreamy Paul Rudd), her college age, non-blood-related stepbrother (their parents were married for a little while), who comes over every once and while, is starting to look pretty darn hunky.

Call me full of expired eyeliner, but I could have sworn that Alicia Silverstone was getting more cute as the film progressed. At any rate, the film's sharp writing definitely had a hand in molding Cher from archetypal teen bimbo into the eloquent voice for millions of disenfranchised daughters of overpaid litigators. But it was the sheer gusto of Alicia's performance that elevates the proceedings to the sphere of excellence. Spewing her lines with what seemed like a grating bluntness, the scrunchy-faced actress tackles the unique dialogue with a poetic flair.

Fashion froward to an almost extreme level, the clothes in Clueless dominate every scene with an aggressive temperament. The fashion riskiness is best represented by Amber, Cher's friend/rival. Made flesh by the gorgeous Elisa Donovan, the "whatever" character sports some of film's most "out there" outfits. Which include: irregular tights, faux fur, and subversive footwear. Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash, while just as tight-obsessed as Amber, their looks seemed to play up their inherent legginess, as skirts of a skimpy nature rule the day.

The adorable Brittany Murphy plays the pint-size Tai, an outsider who finds herself thrust into the spotlight when Cher makes the new student her pet project, and manages to make "Rollin' With My Homies" seem romantic. It's hard to believe this is the same actress who would go on star in movies where she's called upon to tell Mickey Rourke that he is a "fucking fuckface fucker" in Spun.

Stand-outs on the soundtrack include: The Muffs' version of "Kids in America," "Shake Some Action" by Cracker, Jill Sobule's sobulic "Supermodel," and "Need You Around" by a band called The Smoking Popes.



  1. I was always embarrassed that I enjoyed this movie. Most of my buddies hated it. They thought Alicia was hot, but that's about it. I actually thought it was a pretty cool movie. Great write-up on it. I know my sis is a huge fan of this movie.

  2. Thanks, Keith. Your sis has great taste. ;)

  3. Yummers,
    I've been looking for a YouTube clip from this linguistics documentary I love. There's a section on "Clueless English" in Southern California. Seriously.

    *looks up Pontypool*
    What on God's green earth!??!

    No, the sheriffs around here don't look like Taye Diggs, not that I have a lot of interaction with the SCPD. They look more like that doofus who was trying to arrest Michael Phelps.

    Taye Diggs, by the way, went to school in Rochester.

  4. I'm not surprised. The first place I heard the expression "friend of Dorothy" was in Clueless. Along with "hymenally challenged" and the similar sounding "ensembly challenged."

    God's green earth?!? Does that mean you're appalled or excited? ;)

    I never did catch a glimpse of that doofus. (I didn't really follow the story that closely.)

    Taye is married to fellow Renter, Idina Menzel. Of course, you probably already knew that... you know, being a RENT-head and all. (If you're not a RENT-head, and just a casual fan, I apologize in advance.)

  5. I wouldn't say I'm a Rent-head, but no need to apologize.
    Now Mamma Mia! is another story. I am thinking about going to a singalong Friday night.

    I thought about you when I read this article:

    That's so...Canadian! I think the YouTubers are more excited to see Gord Downie who's probably in a small role than star Joshua Jackson. Hee.

  6. Oh, my, God, last night's Conchords had this Visage-inspired musical number. Holy crap, those guys are cool.

  7. Hmmm, I wonder what they call Mamma Mia! freaks. I mean, fans. I wonder. ;)

    I saw that exact same ad for One Week in the latest issue of Now Magazine (local free weekly) and scratched my head as to where those blurbs came from. I guess should have looked closer and read the fine print.

    Call me obsessed, but I must have watched "Fashion Is Danger" ten times in a row. (Mmmm, Kristen Schaal posing in gold lamé shoulder pads.)

    Forget it, Brian. It's NewZealandTown.

  8. Stacey Dash is just incredible :)