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Clueless – 20 Years Later

March 29, 2015

As part of this week’s 1995 celebration, Mark asked some of his favorite people to write about movies made in 1995. I wasn’t sure where to begin so I exercised my Google muscles and searched around the internets for ideas… that was when, much to my horror, I started seeing ‘20th Anniversary Edition’ and ‘20th Birthday Celebration’  headlines on my screen.

Obviously 1995 was 20 years ago, but when you sit down and quantify it, you (meaning me) start to feel really old. Take a look at some of the things turning 20 this year…

  • The DVD is announced as a new media format
  • Starbucks Frappuccino
  • Dangerous Minds, Toy Story, Friday, Apollo 13
  • eBay
  • The World Wide Web available via AOL
  • Tom Hanks wins Best Actor Oscar for Forrest Gump
  • Christopher Reeve is paralyzed

and the real reason for this post…

clueless movie poster

Clueless is 20 years old this year — Cher, Josh, Tai, Christian, and Dionne have been adored by teens and adults alike for two decades.  To look at Paul Rudd (Josh), it is hard to believe that this much time has passed, seriously what is his secret??  If you find yourself looking for something to watch tonight, here are five arguments for the case of Clueless.

  1. Source Material. Another special anniversary to be noted this year, is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Emma, the material that Clueless is loosely a based on.  I cannot count the number of times that I have watched Clueless but it never loses its appeal or humor. Even with the multitude of pop culture references (Twin Peaks, Pippi Longstocking, Beavis and Butthead, Pauly Shore) I attribute that to solid and enduring source material.
  2. Likeable Characters. Sure Elton is kind of an entitled slimeball and Amber is a bitchy frenemy, but there is no real villain in this film.  We have a full cast of quirky, cliquey and lovable teenage characters who are trying to match-make their teachers (to help their GPA’s) and navigate through a mostly typical high school existence full of parties, charity drives, crushes, shopping, debate classes and drivers licence woes. clueless_gym class
  3. THE Closet. That closet though. The first time I saw Cher’s closet, I was in awe.  Nowadays, it would be still be pretty cool, but much more on par with the level of current technology.  I WANTED (read STILL want) that masterful and innovative display of clothing organization, not to mention the clothes within the closet as well.  On a similar topic- there is much talk about the fashion in this movie and the sheer volume of outfits worn by Cher and crew.  What I find impressive about the fashion is that it is clearly 90’s influenced garb, but it feels costumey enough that it still looks fresh and fun when watched 20 years later.cher  - clueless
  4. Awareness. It’s hard not to appreciate a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Tai says it best when Dionne and Cher are orienting her to the Bronson Alcott High landscape while using their best SAT Prep vocab words, ‘Wow, you guys talk like grown ups.’ This awareness shows up in how the schools various cliques are introduced, how the characters talk about themselves, and Tai’s well-thought out apology to Cher. But there is one way that I especially love, Cher’s voice-overs.  She is self-reflective but still naive, generous and helpful but still self-serving and she hashes all of this out via voice-over while we watch her delightful antics. clueless fountain scene - cher
  5. Father- Daughter Dynamic. Mel and Cher Horowitz have been on their own for a while and it is clear that this suits them just fine. Cher watches her dad’s health/diet, he smiles at her quirks.  She looks up to her lawyer dad and tries to incorporate aspects of his career into her behavior to make him proud. When Cher  argues and schemes her grades from average to excellent, a proud Mel says ‘Honey I couldn’t be prouder than if they were based on real grades’.  There are many father-son stories told in cinema, which makes this rare portrayal all the more delightful.

If these five reasons aren’t enough to make you want watch or re-watch Clueless, then in the immortal words of Amber… Whatever!

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