Clueless (1995)

The DailyView continued today with the quintessential 90s high school movie, Clueless. This was, again, one of those movies that I had not considered to be interesting to me. I was wrong. I really enjoyed this one.

Cher (Alicia Silverstone), a Beverly Hills student, at first glance, seems to be the stereotypical Valley girl type of character, but nearly immediately, you can see how much more there is to her than just a vapid, blonde teenager. She goes through several different issues such as grades, boyfriends, fashion and social status in the school.

Cher is concerned with her friends and their lives and she wants to be the friend who helps the others out. It is selfish of her, but she does it in such a sweet manner that you can’t help but like her for it. Alicia Silverstone is wonderful in the role and creates a character that plays both into and out of the expectations.

A young Paul Rudd is here too, playing a step-brother, of sorts, named Josh. Josh’s mother was married to Cher’s father (Dan Hedaya) for a minute. They were now divorced, but Josh would still come over to help with the work on Cher’s father’s lawyer cases.

We get several other characters in Cher’s orbit including her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash) and her boyfriend (Donald Faison), a new girl Tai (Brittany Murphy) who becomes Cher’s ‘project’, Christian (Justin Walker) the boy who dresses better than Cher, and teachers Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) and Miss Geist (Twink Caplan) who Cher hooks up so they would ease off and give students better grades.

I loved every scene with Mr. Hall. Of course, I love Wallace Shawn (Vizzini from The Princess Bride) and, as a teacher myself, I loved his banter with his class. He was so funny and witty with this group of odd ball high schoolers that I would have liked even more from him.

We also got stoner/skateboarder Travis (Breckin Meyer) who had a thing for Tai but was not considered datable material by Cher and the popular girls. Travis’s arc of the movie was one of the better ones and he gets quite a bit done for the limited screen time he got.

There were many legitimately funny moments that I laughed out loud at, as well as several smart and subtle moments of humor. The script was very clever, showing these potentially generic characters in a much more three-dimensional light. Clueless was written and directed by Amy Heckerling, who also directed Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Heckerling clearly has some comedy chops when it comes to high school movies.

Nicely paced, the film took its time and used each of the 90+ minutes extremely well. Each character received a well-written and charming scene to develop who they were as characters. There was a great scene with Cher and her father that told us everything we needed to know about them.

I was truly clueless thinking that I wasn’t going to like Clueless. This was funny and clever, filled with great characters and a ton of fun. A top notch cast handles the surprisingly deep script with a deft precision.

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