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Clueless (1995)

I Was a Teenage Teenager, No Worries

Sex. Clothes. Popularity. Is there a problem here?

Directed by:

Amy Heckerling

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 97 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United States

Despite its title, ‘Clueless’ must surely rank as one of the better, smarter and funnier teen-coms of the last decade or so. Written and directed by ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ helmslady Amy Heckerling and featuring a clutch of youngsters who would go on to hit the big time, there’s a lot to like about this breezy, well-meaning and completely safe chick-flick.

It stars the then-unknown Alicia Silverstone as Cher, a 16-year-old Beverly Hills gal who enjoys being the most popular girl in school (and who wouldn’t? Other than a boy, that is). Of course, past experience and countless other High School flicks have taught us that such lasses generally tend to be complete and utter bitches – but Cher, in actual fact, is quite nice. The best example of that comes when unfashionable school newbie Tai (a barely-recognisable Brittany Murphy) arrives on the scene from another town, and Cher takes her under her wing. It’s not long before the pair are firm friends – but will Cher feel quite as charitable when Tai overtakes her in the playground popularity stakes? Of course she will!

Based loosely on Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ (that’s “loosely” as in loosely-enough-not-to-give-Austen-a-credit), ‘Clueless’ follows a well-trodden teen path while at the same time injecting a humour, dialogue and sharpness that is all its own. The bulk of the cast were virtual nobodies at the time, but the fact that many of them have gone on to become household names is testament to their obvious ability: Silverstone achieved virtual overnight fame off the back of this, Murphy has gone on to become one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood, and other ‘Clueless’ alumni such as Breckin Meyer and Paul Rudd continue to pop up in many a mainstream outing. There’s also an unsung hero in the shape of Stacey Dash who, as Cher’s buddy Dionne, somehow manages to pull off the remarkable feat of looking like a convincing 16-year-old despite actually being 29 at the time. The fact that Dash never really managed to capitalise on her mid-90s promise must go down as one of the movie world’s more inexplicable turns of events.

Nobody’s splitting the atom here, but Heckerling is clearly a woman who knows her genre inside out, and it pays off with a great little piece of comedy. She might not have made much impact since (her only significant credit in the intervening years has been 2000’s ‘Loser’), but she’s clearly anything but clueless.

It's Got: An always-welcome reference to Mark Wahlberg as “Marky Mark”.

It Needs: To, like, get a way different wardrobe.

DVD Extras Just a couple of trailers. Version reviewed: Clueless DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Heathers, Legally Blonde, Mean Girls, Ten Things I Hate About You

Summary

A punchy, cleverly-written girlie gambol with a heart of gold and a cast primed and ready for the big time.

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