Way Existential! Clueless Director Amy Heckerling Reflects on the Film 20 …

18 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Clueless,’ 20 years later: A second opinion from 2 teens and an adult.

Twenty years after Clueless first hit screens, director and screenwriter Amy Heckerling still finds herself using one of the film’s iconic phrases: “Whatever!” “It’s really annoying,” she tells PEOPLE, chuckling. “I use ‘whatever’ all the time. Get ready to feel old in the best kind of way: Writer and director Amy Heckerling’s seminal teen rom-com Clueless turns 20 this week—and time has done nothing to diminish the film’s staying power. (Or entertainment value, as Cher Horowitz might put it.) The quintessential ’90s fashion, a killer soundtrack, a stealthy smart script, and a cadre of quotable lines have found an immovable perch in pop culture that few other teen movies in its wake have accomplished, save for 2004’s Mean Girls.

As Clueless approached the 20th anniversary of its theatrical release on July 19 (old enough to drive; not yet old enough for a brewski), I started to wonder if what I felt for the film was true love—major, total, butt-crazy love—or if youthful nostalgia was clouding my judgment. Sometimes you just don’t want to continue with a story and you just hope [people will] fill in the right blanks!” Calling her experience working on the 1995 classic “the most fun I’ve had,” Heckerling marvels even now at how hard star Alicia Silverstone – who stepped into the shoes of sweet and spoiled Cher – worked on set. “We worked Alicia to death,” says the director. “She was the one who had the least time for messing around. Though critic Richard Corliss praised Alicia Silverstone’s performance as a “giddy delight” and writer-director Amy Heckerling’s endearing touch with “loosey-goosey comedy,” his overall takeaway was that the plot-driven moments between jokes were dragging down the film: Paying to see Clueless is not really mandatory.

It’s a coming of age tale about a Beverly Hills teenager named Cher, who’s doing her best to manage her social life, excel at school, make her father proud and, of course, play matchmaker. “I don’t know why Dionne’s going out with a high school boy, they’re like dogs,” Cher famously laments. “You have to clean them and feed them and they’re just like these nervous creatures that jump and slobber all over you.” “As if!” — that unforgettable line from the film — is also the title of a new book by writer Jen Chaney. Every second she wasn’t on camera, she was doing a fitting.” What did keep the star’s spirits up even then was her beloved dogs. “[That’s] one thing that kept her going,” says Heckerling. “She had that big dog, Samson. So press play on the Clueless soundtrack below, click through the slideshow above, and prepare to be awestruck at all the things you missed the first (or was that tenth?) time around. While I settled in for a studious rewatch on DVD (hot pink “Whatever!” Edition, circa 2005), they logged into Netflix to decide for themselves if Clueless is still dope, or totally buggin.’ I was 13 years old when Clueless hit theaters in the summer of 1995, but my mom wouldn’t allow me to watch it until it hit video stores a year or so later.

You can learn most of the jokes by surfing the TV and newspaper reviews and get a hint of Silverstone’s blithe luster by watching MTV’s relentless promotions. She says Clueless has had a lasting influence on our culture. “It captured, I think, to some degree, the way teenagers were speaking at the time,” Chaney tells NPR’s David Greene. “The whole mood of that movie is just infectious. In celebration of the film’s anniversary, British virtual fit company Metail is back with its focus on fulfilling that need, nodding to the idea with the launch of a dedicated tribute site called www.Cherwears.com. She’s a real, real animal person.” The goofballs on set were Breckin Meyer and Donald Faison, adds Heckerling. “[Working with] the boys was just like trying to get some puppies to sit still for a minute!” Meanwhile, Stacey Dash “was more mature than the others,” she says. “She had worked before in other movies, and so sometimes things would be kind of goofy or people weren’t focused and she sort of was being patient.

I was enthralled by the beautiful fashion, and fashion risks; by the hyper-articulate dialogue and brand-new (to me) slang; and especially Cher’s romantic entanglements. And once you get in there, and you feel like you’re a part of that world, you naturally just want to talk like these people.” In fact, after the movie came out in 1995, the word “clueless” cropped up much more often in our daily speech. It introduced “Whatever!” and “As if!” to a generation but, more than that, Cher Horowitz and her pals taught us some long-lasting fashion lessons we still rely on today. She was definitely the most professional.” “It’s a wonderful feeling,” she says of the cast’s bond. “Alicia, I just saw her in her play and we went to dinner awhile back. Despite the “sex-related dialogue and some teen use of alcohol and drugs” (PG-13 warning), the bright soundtrack, the bold colors, and sweet romances were more my speed than Kids, or Hackers, or even Empire Records (a favorite later in life).

The outlandish outfits that Cher and her friends wore — the bright yellow tartan miniskirts with knee-high socks, for example — were a stark contrast to early ’90s grunge. “There was just something eye-popping and kind of — again, infectious — about that, that I think people really responded to after a couple years of the flannel and always wearing overly baggy things,” says Chaney. From there, they can select which garments they want to see reflected on their likeness on screen, whether it be individual pieces or full outfits chosen for their resemblance to the film. It’s my most capable-looking outfit!” wails Alicia Silverstone’s Cher when she finds out her shirt is in the dry-cleaners on the day of her driving test.

Metail founder Tom Adeyoola said: “It’s a fun tribute both to a film we all love and to the woman who imagined this technology 20 years ago, and it perfectly illustrates the Metail technology as both useful and fun to engage with. We have made the online shopping experience as enjoyable as the best physical retail experience can be.” Metail has worked with brand partners including House of Holland and Little Mistress as well as other high street labels to fill the site with relevant product to purchase.

Don’t be a Monet There’s always the odd morning where you rush out the door without ironing out creases on the back of your shirt or changing when you notice small stains on your clothes, but you’re being a Monet. “It’s like a painting, see? And, says Chaney, Clueless didn’t just set the stage for more dynamic female characters, it also encouraged the industry to focus on their teen audience. Obviously the fashion, makeup, and hair are of another time, along with the soundtrack and the pop-culture references: the Mentos’ “Freshmakers” jingle; Marky Mark planting a tree; Beavis and Butthead and Ren and Stimpy on TV. I had to find sanctuary in a place where I could gather my thoughts and regain my strength.” When it comes to dressing for dates, there are no rules Some people may tell you it’s legs or cleavage, lips or eyes, heels or don’t bother turning up, but Cher reckons she has the whole thing sussed. “Sometimes you need to show a little skin. Even Elton’s oversize CD binder (minus The Cranberries) and Tai’s “Rollin’ with the Homies” cassette tape probably seem so old to anyone born in the 21st century.

Granted, when she finally gets the guy for real, she’s hanging out at home in a very modest t-shirt, but what we’re taking from this is, dress in what feels right. No one bats an eyelash when it’s revealed that Christian is gay (in fact, Cher is the only one who seemed to be totally clueless about it), but that doesn’t stop Murray from using off-putting descriptors like “cake boy” and “Streisand ticket–holding friend of Dorothy.” As a former teenage girl, I was also disturbed by how obsessed the main characters are with body image, especially weight. When Elton dumps Tai, her first reaction is to ask, “It’s my hips, isn’t it?” To cheer her up, they indulge a calorie-fest, but probably only after alternating Buns of Steel or Cindy Crawford’s Aerobicise.

Cher feels like a heifer for eating two bowls of Special K, three pieces of turkey bacon, a handful of popcorn, five peanut butter M&M’s, and, like, three pieces of licorice. (The sad thing is, this sort of dialogue isn’t gone from movies even 10 or 15 years later. If you’ve an inkling your clothes are too revealing, or you dad simply won’t accept Calvin Klein’s definition of a dress, all you need is a sheer blouse to layer over your dress to disguise just how tiny your outfit might be.

Remember how Cady gets back at a dieting Regina George by tricking her into gaining twice as many pounds as she wants to lose in Mean Girls?) But take the girl out of Beverly Hills, and Cher’s teen problems are still fairly relatable today. She’s gorgeous, but still can’t seem to find the right boy to settle down with, already—including the dreamy new kid who’d rather just be friends (Christian), and the friend who wants to maul her in a liquor-store parking lot (Elton).

Find me one teen who’s never experienced jealousy, wondered where they fit in, worried they’d never find love, felt awkward at a party, or stressed over tests or learning to drive. Cher was lining her lips with a pencil a shade darker than her lipstick before Kylie Jenner was born, because according to her, “anything you can do to draw attention to your mouth is good”. But the slang is very different from today, like “buggin’” and “jeepin’.” I only recognized the Cindy Lauper song (“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”) and the very first song, “Kids of America.” The fashion was plaid skirts for girls, and baggy pants for guys.

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