20 reasons why Clueless is a work of cinematic genius
The high school comedy opened in Ireland 20 years ago today on October 20 1995 and it had a few Irish connections...
When lists of the Greatest Films Ever are compiled, we tend to see the usual suspects rounded up: things like Citizen Kane, La Règle du Jeu, Tokyo Story and – as per my clever reference earlier in this sentence – Casablanca.
But those lists are always fatally flawed, because they invariably exclude one of the finest movies in history: Clueless.
I know, you’re all like, “Ugh, as if!” But it’s true. Clueless – which opened in Ireland 20 years ago today – is a work of cinematic genius. And here’s why:
1. It has the best collection of invented slang since Anthony Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange.
Cake boy, jeepin’, buggin’, Monet, Baldwin, way harsh, ensembly challenged…it’s like a whole new language. A whole new world, even.
2. Oh, and “chin pubes”.
Use that on the next sheep-like hipster you see sporting a daft Ned Kelly-sized beard.
3. It retooled Jane Austen for a new audience.
And really, as adaptations of Emma go, it pees all over that dreary costume drama with Gwyneth Paltrow.
4. It’s probably the only teen comedy ever to include a reference to Oscar Wilde.
And a narratively relevant one, at that.
5. One more literary nod.
The movie’s high school is named after one Bronson Alcott: proto-feminist, vegan proselytiser…and dad of Little Women author Louisa May.
6. It made a star out of Alicia Silverstone.
Sure, she then went on to soil her bib by appearing in Batman and Robin, but we love Alicia. She made chewing your baby’s food cool. Well, cool-ish.
7. It’s one of the funniest, most endlessly quotable films ever made.
8. It features characters with names like Cher and Dionne and, eh, Tai.
9. It brilliantly satirised the vacuous, narcissistic personality type of yer average well-to-do SoCal kids.
And given the social media-driven world we now inhabit, it’s more relevant than ever. The entire developed world is now over-run with Chers and Dionnes.
10. At the same time, it somehow managed to be warm and affectionate towards those kids.
If not quite laughing with them, then at least not completely laughing at them.
11. It added to the world’s store of euphemisms for menstruation (“surfing the crimson wave”).
Always useful when someone is discussing periods with the local vicar, and they’ve already run through the other euphemisms.
12. It introduced the public to Paul Rudd, who’s not only made some decent flicks since then but is renowned as a thoroughly decent guy and, best of all, recently said that Ireland was the best place in the world!
I’m wiping away a tear of national pride here.
Swoon. It's Paul Rudd.
13. Second Irish connection (actually third, after Oscar): one of the characters “can’t find my Cranberries CD”.
Oddly, this is regarded as a bad thing, not a blessing.
14. The movie reportedly used 53 different plaid patterns on the outfits.
And you can never, ever have too much plaid.
You can NEVER have too much plaid.
15. Rollin’ with the Homies.
16. Cher had a computer which matched her outfit for the day.
Finally, a proper use for the things.
17. “You’re a virgin who can’t drive.” Ah, le mot juste.
18. Director Amy Heckerling is a total ledge-bag.
One of her first films was the stoner classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High: a movie good enough to justify an entire career.
Amy Heckerling, Stacey Dash, Stephanie Allain, Alicia Silverstone and Elisa Donovan attend the Film Independent's pre-festival outdoor screening of "Clueless" at L.A. LIVE on May 6, 2014 in Los Angeles, California
19. “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 RSVP ‘cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that, like, did not RSVP. 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.”
20. The trailer brings you right back...