Written by Rebecca Humphries

Arts

Rated or Dated: Clueless

Standard Issue writers are revisiting a film/book/TV series to see if it’s stood the test of time. This week, Rebecca Humphries wonders if Amy Heckerling’s 1995 comedy is so last season or, like, way fashion forward.

Alicia Silverstone in CluelessWhat and why: Clueless, with its matchmaking heroine Cher Horowitz (played by Alicia Silverstone), is a ‘90s classic loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma; a book I have sacrilegiously never read but whose eponymous character I’ve been led to believe is also a busybody virgin-who-can’t-drive. A woman whose sole purpose in life is to make dowdy but otherwise perfectly OK strangers wear nicer clothes. In other words, the kind of vapid, frivolous flick I dedicated my formative years to. Cher is the reason that, during my early teens (alright, and late teens. OK, and early 20s. FINE, AND SOMETIMES EVEN NOW) I would:

1) Spend small amounts of money in many shops in order to carry dozens of bags around like a big shot.
2) Wear over the knee socks with everything, including skirts that went below the knee.
3) Use words and phrases such as “whatever”, “like” and “that is way (insert adjective here)” in a presumably highly irritating mock-LA accent.

But now I’m totally an adult and way mature, would Clueless seem so last season or like, way fashion forward?

Rated or dated: First observation: Clueless does not have a plot. You can choose to allow that to mar your enjoyment or just ride the wave of it, taking each chapter as it comes. Basically, these chapters are: Cher sets up two teachers; Cher makes a new girl look pretty; Cher tries it on with a gay bloke; Cher goes all Flowers in the Attic and realises she fancies her own brother (or half brother or something. Anyway, he calls her Dad “Dad” and it definitely isn’t OK).

But what it lacks in structure it more than makes up for in classic ‘90s movie staples. I’m talking montages (many), soundtrack (epic) and voiceover narration (like, essential). It’s like a museum of the ‘90s. The fashion is hilarious; the brown lip liner is all over the shop; there’s skateboarding and crop tops and Supergrass. The ‘state of the art’ technology is similarly creaky, breezeblock phones, pagers (pagers!) and all. But that’s part of the charm, right? Much like in Back to the Future, Clueless permits us smug little moments of “Aaahh! They couldn’t possibly foresee our extraordinary technological advancement! Weren’t past people adorable?”

Clueless poster imageWatching Clueless again I fully expected to still enjoy the movie, but as a nostalgia trip and little more. In fact, writer/director Amy Heckerling’s script is far wittier than I’d remembered (Cher’s Dad: “Do you know what time it is?” Cher: “A watch doesn’t really go with this outfit, Daddy.”). The performances are also more nuanced (Alicia Silverstone is completely hilarious and loveable) and the jokes much, much funnier (“You like Billie Holiday?” “I love him”).

Clueless, dated? As if.

Totally rated. Like, duh.

@Beckshumps

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Written by Rebecca Humphries

Rebecca is an actress and writer from Norwich. She likes her portions big and her dogs small. @Beckshumps