"But seriously, I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl."
July 20, 2013 11:34 AM   Subscribe

18 years ago yesterday, on July 19, 1995, Clueless was released in theaters. Directed by Amy Heckerling and based on Jane Austen's novel Emma, it became known for its fashion and quote-ability, and has an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Alyssa Rosenberg loves "the movie’s ability to see its characters in all their petty glory, without feeling the need to get into a moral panic about their shopping, their sex lives, and their cell phone addictions. Instead, Clueless argues, that’s a perfectly valid place for characters to begin their journey, and that even the most frivolous of adolescents is entirely capable of growing up into a substantive adult."

Entertainment Weekly reunited some of the cast members in 2012.

Buzzfeed has some pieces of advice from the main character, Cher.

And of course, it's still inspiring the fashion world today.

Heckerling's 2012 movie Vamps, reuniting her with Alicia Silverstone and Wallace Shawn, wasn't as well received.
posted by skycrashesdown (106 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also an important movie because it reminds us of just HOW long Paul Rudd has been the exact same age. I was once helping an imdb-challenged friend figure out who Paul Rudd is, and after listing a bunch of recent movies, I added, "You know, Cher's stepbrother Josh in Clueless."

"That's the SAME GUY?" she exclaimed.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:38 AM on July 20, 2013 [54 favorites]


God, I'm old. I saw Clueless with a friend while home from college for the summer. I thought it was great, actually. On technical points it glorifies wealth and bad values in general....but so does Emma, and Emma has always been one of my very favorite novels. I thought it was a great re-imagining of the book - not a stodgy, inevitably ahistorical and politically retrograde costume film like so many movies based on Austen but something new. It's one of those movies that manages to be very mainstream while still being intelligent and enjoyable, the clothes (it sort of is a costume drama in its own right) are really fun and it's exactly the right role for Silverstone.

Because I am a boring picky-pants, it's very difficult for me to find fun, lighthearted movies that don't contain things I find politically or aesthetically grating (I am an annoying movie companion) but I still remember what a delightful evening I had watching Clueless.
posted by Frowner at 11:42 AM on July 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


Excellent use of the virginwhocan'tdrive tag.
posted by dismas at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2013 [24 favorites]


Clueless is linguistically important to me among certain people, because it helps me explain exactly where in LA I am from.

"Have you seen 'Clueless'? You know that valley they're talking about? Yeah, I'm from that."
posted by justalisteningman at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I still giggle every time I listen to Billie Holiday. (I love him!)
posted by mochapickle at 11:50 AM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Such a great movie. My favorite part is when..ooo Snickers!
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:53 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was 16 when this movie came out, and on vacation with my family. One evening we decided to go to the movies, and for some reason, the movie we chose was Waterworld. I think I argued for Clueless, but I lost out because I was the only teenage girl present.

I made it through about 5 minutes of Waterworld, said "screw this," told my parents I'd meet them afterwards, and bounced to the theater showing Clueless.

Definitely the right choice.
posted by lunasol at 11:56 AM on July 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


"Nice stems"
posted by DU at 11:57 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anything happens to my daughter, I got a .45 and a shovel, I doubt anybody would miss you.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 12:02 PM on July 20, 2013 [8 favorites]




I've always been surprised that "Clueless" didn't catapult Alicia Silverstone into Sandra Bullock/Jennifer Aniston/Julia Roberts territory. She was absolutely perfect in the role.
posted by The Gooch at 12:05 PM on July 20, 2013 [22 favorites]


And of course, it's still inspiring the fashion world today.

And the sports world.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:08 PM on July 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I still love Cher schooling Josh's college girlfriend on Hamlet.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:13 PM on July 20, 2013 [13 favorites]


That Pelonius Guy
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 12:15 PM on July 20, 2013


The Gooch: "I've always been surprised that "Clueless" didn't catapult Alicia Silverstone into Sandra Bullock/Jennifer Aniston/Julia Roberts territory. She was absolutely perfect in the role."

I wonder if this has anything to do with it
posted by dismas at 12:17 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I re-watched this a couple of years ago and the only part that really didn't stand up was the gag about Cher and Dionne running into each other while talking on their cellphones. I guess that wouldn't have happened that often in 1995, but these days it's not unusual enough to be funny.

> I wonder if this has anything to do with it

Her filmography is...not so good. The one-two stinkpunch of Batman and Robin and this kind of took the wind out of her sails.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Get out of my chair!"

My dad's a litigator, which is the scariest kind of lawyer.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ren & Stimpy are way existential.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 12:26 PM on July 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Clueless is now 'of legal age'? We should all feel old.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:27 PM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought Vamps was the worst movie of 2012, by a far margin.
posted by Catblack at 12:30 PM on July 20, 2013


Not enough love for T. Birkenstock in this thread.
posted by one_bean at 12:34 PM on July 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


The quote I can never seem to get out of my roster of everyday phrases? "That was way harsh, Tai."
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:36 PM on July 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


The evil-clown neon sign that you see behind Cher during the mugging scene is still there.
posted by corey flood at 12:41 PM on July 20, 2013


Clueless is an excellent example of a movie which should have been shallow and stupid and instead ended up being deep and meaningful. I watch it regularly when it comes across the premium channels. So much fun, so much depth, so shouldn't have been what it turned out to be.
posted by hippybear at 12:46 PM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was 10 when Clueless came out (which is enough of a "holy crap" moment for me). We watched it for the first time at my birthday party, and from then on, it was the go-to movie rental for slumber parties and sleepovers. When I was a kid, it was my first real exposure to idealized teenage girlhood. As I got older, it took on a much different role, especially as I started to read Jane Austen. Still holds up, mostly.
posted by honeybee413 at 1:00 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you ever want to imagine me, imagine the opening clothes selection computer scene from this movie and you will be as close as anyone can come.
posted by The Whelk at 1:17 PM on July 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


I was 24 when it came out. It was one of my earliest getoffmylawn moments.
posted by jonmc at 1:17 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


also re Vamps, never before has such clearly a TV sitcom pilot been smashed into a whole...kinda movie. NEVER!
posted by The Whelk at 1:17 PM on July 20, 2013


I still refer to iinfatuation as being totally butt crazy in love
posted by The Whelk at 1:25 PM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Daddy's a litigator. Those are the scariest kinds of lawyers. Even Lucy, our maid, is terrified of him. He's so good he gets paid five hundred dollars an hour just to fight with people, but he fights with me for free 'cause I'm his daughter."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:26 PM on July 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also an important movie because it reminds us of just HOW long Paul Rudd has been the exact same age.

No kidding. He is into serious Dorian Gray territory at this point..
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:28 PM on July 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I can only enjoy "Emma" when I place all of the characters into the correct Clueless context.
posted by maryr at 1:30 PM on July 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


Metafilter: Dresses funny, listens to complaint rock
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:37 PM on July 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


I was just thinking about this movie today, after finding my original CD soundtrack for it.

Of course, now, the only thing that really stands out for me in the movie is Cher, on her virginity:

"You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet."

And the only reason for this is my almost 50 year old boss apparently loves this line and quotes it at least two to three times a year. He is not picky about his shoes and he has two kids and a wife.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 1:40 PM on July 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also an important movie because it reminds us of just HOW long Paul Rudd has been the exact same age.

He and Donald Fasion must of drank from the same fountain of youth apparently.
posted by littlesq at 1:43 PM on July 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


There goes her social life...
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:44 PM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Shit, you guys, I have never had straight friends before!
posted by box at 1:56 PM on July 20, 2013


Girlie, as far as you're concerned, I am the messiah of the DMV.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:01 PM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Once upon a time, I was young and clueless and actually surprised by the Christian reveal.
posted by fatehunter at 2:10 PM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's on Netflix Instant! There goes the rest of my afternoon.
posted by donajo at 2:11 PM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


For drama class my freshman year of high school, I acted out the Cher/Tai argument scene with a classmate. It is still so aptly quotable (as is most of the movie) in my daily life. "You're just a VIRGIN who CAN'T DRIVE!"

And every time I slide through a red light: "I totally paused!"

Like Cher, I am kinda not a great driver.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:32 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


He and Donald Fasion must of drank from the same fountain of youth apparently.

Don't forget Stacey Dash. Uncanny.
posted by mochapickle at 2:32 PM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Stacy Dash is a replicant though. Same make and model as Romney.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:37 PM on July 20, 2013


Also, you should all go read this fic from last year's Yuletide, which makes me so happy that it exists. Cher/Josh 4-ev-a!
posted by nicebookrack at 2:37 PM on July 20, 2013


I've always been surprised that "Clueless" didn't catapult Alicia Silverstone into Sandra Bullock/Jennifer Aniston/Julia Roberts territory. She was absolutely perfect in the role.

I assumed she developed Bell's Palsy and that impeded her career. However there seems to be no actual confirmation of that. So, huh....
posted by srboisvert at 2:39 PM on July 20, 2013


Sporadicus
posted by triggerfinger at 2:46 PM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just rewatched this on Netflix Instant the other day because Paul Rudd. It is an incredible 90s time capsule, as much so as any John Hughes movie is for the 80s. Wallet chains! Pagers! Mighty Mighty Bosstones cameo!
posted by nev at 2:58 PM on July 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I still call the music my husband likes "complaint rock." This movie came out when I was heading into fifth grade and my friends and I based our entire conception of cool around Cher.
posted by town of cats at 3:02 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


This movie, along with Buffy, cemented the idea of The California High School which has rich, well-dressed, suspiciously older looking students in some beautiful Spanish revival school building with parking lots for students and thier corvettes.

The fact that they frequently use the same high school across Tv / Movies ( Torrence High ) did not help with the impression that all high schools Out West are like that.
posted by The Whelk at 3:04 PM on July 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Rotten Tomatoes and I parted ways when it rated "This Is The End" at 84% and made me waste $11 on it.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:09 PM on July 20, 2013


The Whelk - so much of the brilliance of Veronica Mars is in its admission that there are non-rich kids in California High Schools as well.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:13 PM on July 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Soundtrack is composed almost, if not entirely, of covers.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:18 PM on July 20, 2013


I can only enjoy "Emma" when I place all of the characters into the correct Clueless context.

I firmly believe that Emma and Clueless form the best of all possible double bills for a girlie movie night.

I vacillate, however, on which order to show them in.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:29 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I want to see Clueless paired with Easy A and Saved in a triple movie night. The transitions would be fitting and fantastic.

I adore this movie and did 2 college papers on the fashion of it. I still say, "an awhatta?" Periodically. I totally had issues about being a virgin who couldn't drive. And I love Alicia Silverstone no matter what turds she makes and the whole baby with a crazy name, vegan, feeds the baby like he's a bird thing.

And even if the special effects are (deliberat
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:46 PM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Er, (deliberately?) Bad, I liked Vamps. It's surprisingly sweet and has an ending you would not expect from this type of movie. Plus I like to think I could be one of Goody 's descendants.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:49 PM on July 20, 2013


I was slightly too young to see Clueless when it came out, though some of the trends it helped to start floated down to us younger kids. (Those pens with the feathers on top!) I was in high school by the time I saw it, and it was fun but somehow didn't fully register then. The Clueless experience that means the most to me is actually a very recent one.

It was the day of Hurricane Sandy, and I was nursing a big ol' crush. One of those all-consuming ones that crosses over the line from pleasant euphoria to "I can't think straight anymore, actually this is kind of annoying." It being the middle of a big-ass hurricane, I was stuck inside my house with all of that pent-up crush energy--I had asked the person out on a date before the storm, I knew we were both hurricane-trapped inside and they'd seen my e-mail, but no response. All my normal anxiety, ramped up to 11 because I couldn't exercise it off and my house felt like it could fall around me any minute

I was able to get out and moving a bit by the next day, but that anxiety never quite ratcheted down, and I still wasn't sure about the date. By now, I was starting to wonder--was it really normal to invest so much thought and emotional energy into one person? I couldn't let go of the fact that I might be a grossly fixated clingy freak.

At the height of this emotional mess, a friend invited me over for dinner and a movie. I picked Clueless out of her collection, not remembering a whole lot about it. And somehow, watching Cher and all of her over-the-top flirting techniques--the way she goes after Christian, even after he's clearly not interested-!--made me put my own thoughts in perspective. "I'm not as bad as Cher is, but hey, this filmmaker is laughing with her, not at her! Maybe I'm not a freak either, maybe that's just the way women are socialized that equates clear communication with clinginess."

I never did get that date, but my brain got a lot clearer after watching Clueless.
posted by ActionPopulated at 3:54 PM on July 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Great movie. So many quotable lines!
posted by greenhornet at 4:03 PM on July 20, 2013


This movie caused so much cognitive dissonance for my young, male, hetero, Midwestern teenage self.

"This is obviously a movie for girls."
"But the girls are hot, and they dress hot!"
"Yeah, but it's obviously a movie for girls."
"But the girls are hot, and they dress hot!"

I never did see _Bring_It_On_. It probably would have made my head explode.
posted by evil otto at 4:11 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh my gawd, the camisoles over baby tees. I had forgotten about those.
posted by donajo at 4:23 PM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks for this totally fetch post! I love Amy Heckerling and recall seeing this back in the day at my local $1 matinee place and just adoring every last bit of it... it's definitely going on the box tonight.
posted by porn in the woods at 5:40 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw this movie in the theater with my parents. I was 15. That's why the very first line that always comes to mind is: "I was surfing the crimson wave! I had to haul ass to the ladies!" AWKWARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRD
posted by clavicle at 5:45 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two enthusiastic thumbs-up. Fine holiday fun.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:20 PM on July 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I love how nonchalant she is after realizing that her boy crush is gay: "After all, he dresses better than I do. What would I bring to the relationship?"
posted by jonp72 at 6:46 PM on July 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


The knowing smile Cher's dad gives when Josh says he'll watch her for him is one of my favorite moments in any movie.
posted by aturoff at 7:27 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


porn in the woods, stop trying to make fetch happen! It's not going to happen!
posted by aureliobuendia at 7:31 PM on July 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


This is a movie I showed my parents because I knew they would love it, and they did. Rolling With My Homies is one of dad's favorite songs.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:35 PM on July 20, 2013


Ok, this thread is now going down a shame spiral.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:55 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


More love for Twink Caplan please. Miss Geist is so cute!

R.I.P. Brittany Murphy.

So did ya'll enjoy the Clueless TV show or was it just me?
posted by IndigoRain at 8:10 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, death from pneumonia at 32, and her husband a year later, same thing?
posted by moira at 8:31 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Love this movie. It's hands down the best Austen adaptation I've seen in terms of completely getting the feel and the humor and the satire dead-on.

She's a full-on Monet. From far away, it's OK, but up close, it's a big old mess.
posted by Mchelly at 8:33 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not a total Betty, but a definitely improvement.

What that man needs is a good, healthy boinkfest.

It's one thing to light up a doobie and get laced at parties, but it's another thing to go around fried all day.

Oh, shit, you guys have coke here? (I was never able to tell if Tai was excited for Coca-Cola... or cocaine. Help?)
posted by ELF Radio at 8:38 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]



Oh, shit, you guys have coke here?


This is America...
posted by Navelgazer at 8:40 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once upon a time, I was young and clueless and actually surprised by the Christian reveal.

Perhaps it's because I was just out of high school and the closet at the time, but I've always hoped that the popularity of this movie made that awkward "date" happening in real life a lot less common.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:49 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The producers of Suburgatory are big Clueless fans, and managed to engineer an Alicia Silverstone guest arc as a love interest for Jeremy Sisto's character. But then the second season came around and they dropped that idea completely without much fanfare. I guess it didn't quite pan out.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:29 PM on July 20, 2013


"So like, right now for example. The Haitians need to come to America. But some people are all, "What about the strain on our resources?" Well it's like when I had this garden party for my father's birthday, right? I put R.S.V.P. 'cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that like did not R.S.V.P. I was like totally buggin'. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier. And so if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty. Thank you very much."

I love this movie
posted by triggerfinger at 9:41 PM on July 20, 2013 [26 favorites]


I read somewhere that Alicia Silverstone unintentionally mispronounced Haitians ("hate-ee-uns") while doing that speech for the first time, and Amy Heckerling loved it so much that she didn't bother correcting her.
posted by zoetrope at 9:46 PM on July 20, 2013


Brecklin Meyer (Travis) is wearing a t-shirt I printed in this scene.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:09 PM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh right. you guys were all under 20 when the movie came out.
As if.
I bet you're all Baldwins too.
posted by NorthernLite at 10:41 PM on July 20, 2013


That's what I put on my headshots yes
posted by The Whelk at 11:22 PM on July 20, 2013


Oh right. you guys were all under 20 when the movie came out.
As if.
I bet you're all Baldwins too.


Somebody said something close to it above - this is the closest the nineties had to a John Hughes movie.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:35 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Our John Hughes movie was actually Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

As evidence I submit the ability to make putting on the Sunday's cover of Wild Horses lead to MASS EMOTIONAL FEELINGS in the crowd provided.
posted by The Whelk at 11:41 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


the only part that really didn't stand up was the gag about Cher and Dionne running into each other while talking on their cellphones.

This is hilarious, because it's one of the moments in the movie I remember thinking was so stupid and unrealistic and WOULD NEVER HAPPEN in real life, when I watched it as a teenager when it came out.

And yet, you're right. Now it happens so often it's not even a joke.
posted by Sara C. at 12:35 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did the average age of Mefi's suddenly drop or am I really that damned old now?
posted by readyfreddy at 2:20 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nah, readyfreddy, it's just that those of us who were younger when Clueless came out might be more likely to read such a thread and comment in it ;-)
posted by nat at 6:54 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved Clueless, which was both a terrific film and an aftershock from the little existential meltdown I had in the mid-eighties and the flashbacks that come and go.

I got expelled from school in '86, and my father instructed me to go out and see the world, and my residential history from that point was a part of a two-year flounder as I tried to figure out what I'd do next, and I ended up in a relationship with the keyboardist from a once-prominent DC area band, living in a cruddy apartment in Bladensburg, Maryland with no air conditioning. I am not a hot weather guy, and my lungfish panic at high temperatures drove me into the numerous dollar theaters, where I'd pay my dollar, dig into the cool, muddy bank of a well-hidden seat near the back, and bask in icy air conditioning while I watched the same film over and over and over.

Film in the eighties, particularly of the dollar theater variety, were invariably set in, and essentially about, Los Angeles, and like a self-imposed Ludovico Treatment, I started turning L.A. in a big way, despite being a shaggy, aimless kid from Maryland. I sat through Ruthless People dozens of times, developing a unrequited love affair for Ettore Sottsass among the other tics I developed. Watched countless other L.A. films countless times, adjusted my personal style to match, and since I couldn't afford the clothes in those movies, taught myself to sew and took to modifying thrift store clothes, Memphis-style, in my own fucked-up vision of how to become a diasporan Angeleno. Fantasized about Angelyne, dreamed about visiting the sites around the city in the 1969 travel brochure I found at a yard sale.

I had utterly failed, being a plain old Marylander, in being neither an exemplar of delicious bad taste or a dull and upstanding employee in the spook works, and I'd sit in the ammonia-filled diazo duplicator room where I worked, processing air crash reports for the NTSB and doing spot-by-spot quality control inspections of victim photos from shattered airliners, marking film defects on gory 8x10 glossies with a Sharpie and dropping them into the redo bin, listening to new wave music, and daydreaming about my escape to Los Angeles.

I will be cool. Then they'll all be sorry.

Sadly, I lacked nerve, or more precisely, when I was on a sub-ramen diet, resorting to eating solely from the Fixin's Bar at Roy Rogers, couldn't fathom how to get to California with my broken-down MG, let alone find work, when all I was qualified to do was deliver pizza (ruled out because of the MG) and inspect gruesome body pictures from airliner crashes, but it brewed and surged and simmered. I inadvertently dyed my entire body orange with Coppertone QT and supposedly "Titian Gold" hair dye in a failed attempt to look the part, I wore nothing but homemade seersucker drawstring white pants, espadrilles, and muscle shirts to go with my mullet and ear cuffs with the little dangly bits, made myself mens' versions of Midler's Memphis-bizarro couture, and otherwise tried to will myself westward through fashion crimes.

In the meantime, I got my GED, and because I'd been the valedictorian of my testing cycle, I got a small state senatorial scholarship that covered my tuition at the university, and I let it fade a bit. Then, as I was floundering in my first semester, having gone from a tiny school with a graduating class of six to amphitheater classes of hundreds, Earth Girls Are Easy came along and I started catching that nightly in the buck theaters, managing two showings a night.

Why do I like this? I'm an afficionado of Chris Marker, for fuck's sake. This is just dumb.

And yet—I watched and watched. The day-glo frizzed-out triple-white-convertible smirking joyful messed-up excess of it all just cried out to me like a siren on the rocks in parachute pants. In the pantheon of films I'd used as palliatives to a dead-eyed existence of forever grinding my soul down for the Man, Earth Girls seemed like a road map to that impossible otherness of the land of the setting sun. I saved money, trying to make a plan to move to place that I'd inexplicably mistaken for heaven after obsessively reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem and ignoring the actual content of the book, but my car broke down and needed something expensive, and I was working two jobs anyway, and it's all just silly, right, and the sun would cross the sky each day and dive, sizzling, into the golden Pacific as seen from the beach at Venice, at least in my imagination.

I got a degree, eventually settled into a sort of moderately comfortable existence, and stopped thinking of Los Angeles. By the time Clueless rolled around, I was able to watch it repeatedly and just enjoy it, rather than being driven into a mire of self-doubt. Good film—funny, sexy, sort of dumb, but in a joyous way. Nice.

Forward to the future, I end up in a complicated relationship with Julie Brown's former manager, who formerly managed a whole herd of my personal cultural icons as well, and who'd been stationed at a less-than-cool cable network in Silver Spring, and suddenly, I'm confronting the ghosts of Los Angeles.

"Come out with me and I'll show you my city," he says, and I am that starstruck, but by the place, by the scenes and settings, not the stars, who are, as I well know, just people.

His friends are delighted by my hayseed turnip truck persona, all genuine, right down to the way I pronounce the "lance" in "ambulance" and the way I say "gen-you-wine," because I'm part Baltimore and part Georgia by upbringing, and I am obsessed with the weird stick trees, which I've been told harbor palm rats, and the Bird of Paradise flowers everywhere and the In & Out burgers, holy fucking mother of Christ, the In & Out burgers, and I have my tattered 1969 tourist brochure, so I naturally want to find Ray Milland's star and eat at the Brown Derby, so I can be Eve Arden in the scene from Lucy where she's at the Brown Derby.

"Well, the Brown Derby is just a strip mall now. C'mon, what do you want to do?"

"Uh, I want to reënact the scene from Clueless where they get on the highway by accident."

"The freeway, you mean."

"Yeah, that."

I was disappointed that we had to do it in a convertible PT Cruiser, but it was fun. Over a week, I orchestrated a series of visits and scenes to places I'd seen on the big screen, back when Los Angeles was a mythical place where my imaginary friends all lived, where the mundane was driven back into the shadows by the relentless sun. The mundane lives there, too, mostly in the grocery stores and the parking lots around the shopping centers, but punctuated with trees designed by Dr. Seuss.

"Are you still looking for rats in the trees, Joe?"

"Nooo. Uh, well, yeah."

"Who told you about those, anyway?"

"Mickey."

"Never believe Mickey. She loves to mess with you."

On that first trip, I will wake every morning at 5 AM, soak in the hot tub behind It's-Complicated's house in Venice while furrowing my brow at Christmas decorations in palm trees in a place where it's seventy-three degrees at Christmas, then I'll walk out to the beach and walk barefoot at the waterline to the Santa Monica pier, then back. I will insist my friends take me to the intersection of Florence and Normandie and simulate pulling me out of the car and beating me up (the ball gag part of that will come straight from Mickey, who is a lovely mean girl whose picture is seen on a number of South Park episodes). I will go to settings from Lebowski and go to 10050 Cielo Drive and will sing "Screen Kiss" while I'm in the hills above old Hollywood and "Tinseltown in the Rain" when it starts to rain, a phenomenon It's-Complicated declares a rare winter treat there.

"We need to find a bakery that's open so we can get a cake to leave in McArthur Park," he says, and I'm just nuts in love with him and the whole place right then, and suddenly we're in the shiny tiled tunnel from Blade Runner and the city is so strange and so familiar and it's all impossible, all of it.

Later, we will drive up Mulholland Drive on a clear night, and it's the spectacle of the city I can't stand, because the scale of it just does me in, giving me an intense vertigo of humanity. The endless grid of lights, the deer in silhouette on the dark hillside, and a relationship that is not going to work out, and all those film crews out there, assembling the perfect disconnected cinematic wonderland for all those lonesome boys in the Maryland suburbs to learn to love as the way out of wherever they've found themselves. It's-Complicated will sling an arm around me, and it will be a momentary happy ending that I will impose a rolling crawl of credits over before I have to climb back into an airplane and cross the continent with him to my smaller, contained universe.

"What do you want to do today?"

"I want to see the airship shed at Moffatt Field."

"Where's that?"

"Sunnyvale."

"Shit, Joe, that's six hours away."

"Really? Everything's far in California."

"Let's go to Dave's party."

"But that's in the Valley!"

"See," says It's-Complicated, "Now you're starting to get it."

"No, I'm clueless," I say, but he does not catch the reference.
posted by sonascope at 7:05 AM on July 21, 2013 [31 favorites]


Oh my god, take a mental margarita. Don't sprain your brain, here take two klonopin and just sleep it off, then pool and shopping. I have a black card, they can close the store for us.

I'm blonde and my Mom is a displaced southern Californian , I can say these things.
posted by The Whelk at 7:25 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


"But that's in the Valley!"

'It's night. There's no traffic. Everywhere in L.A. is twenty minutes.'

Can we have a Pump Up The Volume thread some time soon?
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:23 AM on July 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Remember when "Cellphones are getting so small!" was a recurring joke? I recall a few references to this '90s-ism in Clueless.
posted by deathpanels at 8:40 AM on July 21, 2013


what's the matter Amy, you inhale your phone again?
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Sorry, but my plastic surgeon doesn't want me participating in any physical activities where balls might fly at my nose."

"Well there goes your social life."
posted by Rock Steady at 9:09 AM on July 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why, it has been a few weeks since I watched Clueless. I think my excuse last time was... well, now I can't remember. To the Netflix.

And yes, loved the TV show. And yes, Paul Rudd is clearly Dorian Gray.
posted by RainyJay at 9:16 AM on July 21, 2013


Sonascope, I'm an LA native who was told palm trees are girdled with metal in order to discourage rats
posted by brujita at 10:57 AM on July 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


sonascope, I have one thing to say to you:

vannuyshIIIIIIIIgh?
posted by Sara C. at 11:41 AM on July 21, 2013


I can only enjoy "Emma" when I place all of the characters into the correct Clueless context.

I firmly believe that Emma and Clueless form the best of all possible double bills for a girlie movie night.


When "Emma" came out (the Gwyneth Paltrow version) I was chatting with coworkers, and mentioned I was planning to go see it.

"Why?" One of them asked, quizzically. "I heard it was just 'Clueless' with old clothes."
posted by ambrosia at 1:06 PM on July 21, 2013


Karen Healey on "Clueless" (part of her series on teen movies, in which she also talks about Saved!, Easy A, etc.).
posted by brainwane at 2:02 PM on July 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm rewatching right now, and I have to say.

I either had or lusted after every item of clothing in the entire movie, worn by anyone, including Tai's outfit when she first meets Cher & co.

I forgot about the obsession with sheer button-down shirts, though. What was that?
posted by Sara C. at 2:15 PM on July 21, 2013


The popular girls' clothes are ridiculous, but at least they fit correctly. Paul Rudd's shirts are so huge his wee little hands barely poke out of them. Because it's the 90's!
posted by nev at 5:44 PM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was just having a Jane Austen BBC fest this weekend and hunted down this version of Emma and was completely convinced that the actress who plays Emma (Garai) was playing it like Silverstone's Cher. She incorporated a lot of affected mannerisms and cutesy face pulls (in a good way) that made me adore Clueless.

I love watching Clueless for some of the more subtle points:

- In one scene where Cher is talking to her father about how she got all her grades up basically through arguing with her teachers, she's actually making him a tea at the time and at one point she nonchalantly reaches out of the window to grab a lemon off the tree outside and starts slicing it.

- In the first few seconds of a different scene you can hear the tail end of a conversation where Cher is demonstrating how using a knife to cut food on a plate can help burn calories.
posted by like_neon at 3:02 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: the working title for Clueless was "I Was a Teenage Teenager"
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:42 AM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I liked how Heckerling was basically appalled by the grungy look of most High Schoolers so the production team took dues from Euro fashion shows ...which lead to Cher and Crew's style being copied by actual teenagers and becoming a Thing.
posted by The Whelk at 9:55 AM on July 22, 2013


I don't know if that's true. I remember the thigh-high stockings with stacked-heel mary janes, and the tiny backpacks, and a lot of the other aesthetic "look" of the kids in the movie already being a thing before Clueless came out. Though I'm sure there were production notes that they wanted everyone but the stoners to be super clean cut and wearing up-to-the-minute teenager clothes.

That said, I think a lot of the specific clothes that Cher and Dionne wear are a step above what even the wealthiest teenagers would have been wearing at the time. There's the Alaia dress in the mugging scene, Dionne's ridiculous black and white hat, and just about everything Cher wears to dates or parties is light years beyond what I'd have been wearing to those occasions in 1995.
posted by Sara C. at 10:11 AM on July 22, 2013


Yeah Cher dresses, well, may nicer than any teenager have any right to be dressing.
posted by The Whelk at 10:24 AM on July 22, 2013


Rewatching this about six months ago was a huge revelation for me. I watched it when it came out and took away the message that Cher was a good person because she tried to do things for other people. On rewatch - not so much. Instead, I realized that the moral is more like:

Helping people by thinking about yourself and doing things "for" them without ever asking what they would like or would actually be helpful to them? Yeah, that's not helpful. It gets you in messes, and more importantly really sucks for the people you are "helping." Ask people and don't try to Do What's Best for them, because you have no CLUE what that really is.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:37 AM on July 22, 2013


Actually, the biggest lesson I learned rewatching Clueless is that good editing and sound mixing is important. I can't tell if there were substantial changes from script to final film that were done in post, or if the shoot was a mess and they had to cover their asses because the sound mix was awful, they didn't make their days, vital footage was destroyed, or what. But maaaaan, if you want to see what a Not Technically Proficient film looks like, Clueless covers it.

I'm also curious about the extensive, maybe even excessive, voiceovers.
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 AM on July 22, 2013


Nuh uh, you want She's All That, it's like an evil alternate universe Clueless and it has the worst sound mixing I have ever heard in a major motion picture. THE WORST.

Not even counting Ghostly Dance Command Usher.
posted by The Whelk at 10:51 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I now badly want to make (or want someone else to make) a re-edit of the freeway scene from Clueless with footage from Matrix Reloaded, as well as L.A. Story and Terminator 2.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:42 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


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