This review is dedicated to Adam Glass and Andrea Obert, without whom college would seriously have me buggin’
Where do I begin with Clueless? It has a fantastic cast, relatable characters, and even a little depth about the psyches of teenage girls in the 90’s. Add a great soundtrack along with a script so quotable that it makes the Anchorman movies seem armature in comparison, and you’ve got the recipe for a teen film that works as well now as it did all the way back in 1995.
The film follows California girl Cher (A brilliant Alicia Silverstone), a sexy, self-absorbed teen at the top of the high school food chain. With her BFF Dionne (Stacey Dash) by her side, Cher goes through each day with a peppy attitude and prada shoes to match. The only blemishes on Cher’s perfectly made-up life are her strict lawyer father (Dan Hedaya) and the arrival of her ex stepbrother Josh (an enjoyable Paul Rudd.)
Cher must act fast upon receiving a less-than-stellar report card, leading to the banishment from her oh-so-important truck. She snidely hooks two teachers up (Wallace Shawn and Twink Caplan), and sees increased grades go up across the board. High off of her success, Cher searches for another person in need of “help”, stumbling onto new student Tai (A career-best turn from Brittany Murphy), assisting her in becoming popular and locating a boyfriend, a task that sends everyone on a path that will leave them forever changed.
This movie is without a doubt one of the best teen films ever made. Its witty dialogue, colorful (and trend-setting) costume design, and fantastic soundtrack make for a hilarious and unpredictable ride through 90’s teen life. Silverstone is flawless in the role, perfectly displaying Cher’s transition from a self-absorbed teen to a caring young woman with surprising ease. Brittany Murphy also works wonders as the awkward-yet-endearing Tai, providing her best performance in a shamefully short career. Paul Rudd and Dan Hedaya are also enjoyable, each providing unexpected layers to their characters. In short, the film is perfectly cast and should be admired for getting all the right people together at the right time.
The dialogue and costume design are also spot-on, with both showing the teenagers as intelligent and youthful without one overcoming the other. Many films and TV shows have attempted to have their teen characters speak in sarcastically intelligent one-liners to seem smarter than the average shopper, and Clueless started that trend. Without Clueless, we likely wouldn’t have gotten Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Mean Girls, or Glee, all of which feature strong female characters going through life-altering changes and still being able to crack a witty line. The clothing is colorful and realistically revealing for the characters’ ages, and everyone actually looks like a teenager. It was a breath of fresh air to see 18-year-old characters who actually looked like they were 18 , rather than looking like they should be applying to college. It’s a small praise, but it is one of many gems in this diamond mine of a movie.
Clueless is a funny, well-written, and intelligent teen film that transcends the ages thanks to its witty script endearing characters, and message about finding happiness for yourself, as well as an absolutely booming soundtrack. As of this review, it is streaming on Netflix. See it.
Rated PG-13 for Language, Sexual Content, and Some Drug Use