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"Clueless" fucking sucks

October 5th, 2009

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When I first moved out to Los Angeles my friend Hannah told me to rewatch “Clueless” after I’d been living here a few months. She said I’d really appreciate it on a different level, getting all of the topical and local references that went over my head.

So last night, with my new short “Becca’s Box” all but finished (I’ll be officially done tomorrow afternoon) I checked out a copy from the campus library. The last time I saw this movie I was about 14 and, despite myself, really enjoyed it. If memory serves me it was generally well received and got decent reviews.

Today? It fucking sucks.

First of all, it hasn’t aged well. At all. All of the references, slang and snide comments are extremely dated, making the movie seem more ridiculous than it already is (imagine how bad “Juno” will sound in 15 years).

OK, second, credit to Alicia Silverstone for making an utterly unlikable character likable and to Paul Rudd for being, well, Paul Rudd. But that’s about all of the good things I can say about this. I remember loving Breckin Meyer’s skate punk character as a kid, now he’s just an annoying cliche. Likewse Brittany Murphy, Wallace Shawn and all the other wasted talent here.

Forget that it’s an update of “Emma” for a moment. There’s no real conflict. The jokes all fall flat. I don’t care for a single moment about Alicia Silverstone’s problems. What I want, and where the movie really cheats the story, is a confrontation between Alicia, Paul and their father at the end. “Daddy, I’m fucking my stepbrother.”

The director is also the same woman who made “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” The difference, and while a bit slow, I think “Fast Times” holds up, is that “Fast Times” is almost page-for-page taken from a non-fiction book by Cameron Crowe (who also wrote the screenplay). I don’t think any reporting went into “Clueless.” I could be wrong, but it certainly would’ve helped.

My most vivid memory of this movie is a girl who “got sick” at summer camp and saw it 3 times in the theaters. She loved it. I caught it after camp and had a good time.  But now I think the problem is that it doesn’t hold up because it’s simply fantasy. What teenage American girl circa 1994 wouldn’t want to live in a mansion, have tons of clothes and her pick of the boys? That’s really the appeal, simple as that.

Having never been a teenage girl I’m not interested in any of these. But what I am interested in are movies that are both funny and tell a good story. “Clueless” does neither. And I don’t think it’s because it’s about a high school girl that I’m not interested– “Mean Girls,” while not perfect, succeeds on most levels. (“Election,” one of my favorites, does, but it’s not fair to compare, since “Election” operates on a higher level).

Anyways– how’s this for an awkward transition– I’ve got a short I’m 24 hours from finishing titled “Becca’s Box.” It’s by no means perfect and really nothing like “Clueless” except that it’s a comedy about a girl and relationships.

 

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