Initially Clueless was considered just another vacuous Teenpix with a limited lifespan, however its appropriations of Austen’s Emma, gave it sustenance and developed its cult following and a status as a worthy text.
Clueless is a feisty chick flick lit that can stand on its own merits as a well constructed lasting text. Though it appropriates much from Emma it updates and enhances the concerns, situations to universalise them and provides an access to the original text motivating young people to read and find relevance in it.
Its major worthy attributes are its subtle witty quick repartee, its credible situations, its sound score and its visual effects.
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Clueless: An near-perfectly updated classic, 17 August 2006
Author: Flagrant-Baronessa from the kingdom of far, far away (Sweden)
“Isn’t my house classic? The columns date all the way back to 1972.”
When romantic high-school comedy Clueless (1995) was released, it was immediately vaulted into cult-status and firmly stapled as one of the most original teen-flicks of the 1990s. ‘Original’ is perhaps a term wrongly applied since it is based on the queen of romance Jane Austen’s Emma (1815) . But what Clueless did was update the classic story by coating it with high school drama, teenage girls and shopping and sprinkle it with heavy doses of humour.
Emma is no longer Emma; she is Cher (Alicia Silverstone), a spoiled rich girl walking around in her Beverly Hills mansion in a bubble of stereotypes and teen-clichés – but with a great big heart. So big-hearted, in fact, that she takes on the lost goofy new girl in her school to find her love and popularity, knowing full-well that it could destroy her own reputation. Clueless thus sees Cher and her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash) on a mission to do good. Real good.
All the detours this mission entail are captured brilliantly in the film, taking the form of love-interests, parties, shopping and misunderstandings. From Cher’s grumpy lawyer-father (an hilarious Dan Hedaya) and her nerdy step-brother (a likable Paul Rudd) to her eccentric group of friends at school, Clueless is a superb ride of teenage comedy camp. Only just over 10 years old, it is still extremely dated today. But no matter, because the 90s clichés like skateboarding, Marky Mark and the catch-phrase “As if” just make it so much more contemporary and fun to watch.
What elevates Clueless (1995) above generic high school comedy is its use of stereotypes. In most films they are unintentionally there to create a subconscious effect, but in Clueless they are made fun of to a much higher degree – they are overblown and glorious. It brutally satirizes rich kids and their ‘problems’ and juxtaposes them with a classic, heart-felt love-story. The kind that only Jane Austen can write.