Old people can be so sweet sometimes. I admit that, due to nostalgia or whatever it is that makes us look fondly back at the movies and music from our youth, I tend to revere some things from the 90’s (and 80’s!) maybe more than they really deserve. But Clueless isn’t one of them.
Clueless was and is still wonderful, even at 20. I consider it the best Austen adaptation ever. Blasphemy? There have been several articles marking the anniversary that make the case better than I can.
Clueless perfectly translates the world of Emma into 1990s America. Most of Austen’s characters are given clear doppelgangers and the events unfold much as they do in the book. However, what is really uncanny is how writer/director Amy Heckerling was able to convey a lot of Austen’s voice in a way you don’t often see in other adaptations. Austen wasn’t trying to write sweeping romances that celebrated English country life; she was trying to write comedies that mocked it. ~ Meghan O’Keefe at Decider
It was only when I reread Emma for the third time as a full-grown adult that I understood just how perfect Amy Heckerling’s understanding of the heart of Austen’s novel is. With distance from Emma’s life stage, I finally saw the deep humor and pathos in the character, who was stuck caring for an invalid father, and whose meddling in part arose from her being too clever for her limited life. To use the parlance of Clueless, the big reveal of the novel is that Emma Woodhouse is the 1800s version of a teenage virgin who can’t drive. In fact, that pivotal Clueless line, delivered so witheringly by Tai, unlocks the mystery of Emma, too —re-inscribing inexperience and innocence on Emma Woodhouse, as bossy and sophisticated as the character seems. ~ Sarah Seltzer at Flavorwire
So to any Austen purist who dismisses Clueless as anything less than brilliant, I say you are a snob and a half.
But let’s move on to some fun highlights! Because, damn, Clueless is funny, and the cast is literally perfect. Here are a few of my favorite lines, scenes, and characters, in no particular order:
1. The Freeway Scene. Just. So. Wonderful.
Boy, getting off the freeway makes you realize how important love is.
2. Which brings us to: Cher’s voiceovers. There are too many great lines to highlight.
3. The Classic: “As if!”
4. Cher’s oral debates. We can certainly party with the Hat-ee-ans!
5. Cher in general. Alicia Silverstone walks that line between endearing and annoying perfectly.
6. Mentioned above, another classic line, delivered with infinite sass by Brittany Murphy:
Tai delivers lots of great lines though. “My buns, they don’t feel nothin’ like steel.” “Oh, I’m not a virgin.” “I don’t know. Like, stuff.” “Yeah, I hope not sporadically!” Her fall at the party is great too.
7. I’ve gotten this far without even mentioning Paul Rudd. That’s how good this movie is. But, how about Paul Rudd, amirite? He’s kind of a Baldwin. But stop it, we’re making him blush.
8. Any scene with Dan Hedaya as Mel Horowitz. I especially like when he yells at Tai to get out of his chair.
9. Any scene with Donald Faison as Murray. Because he’s keepin’ it real. Because he’s keepin’ it real.
10. Travis’ impromptu tardy acceptance speech, plus Wallace Shawn forever and ever.
11. Dionne delivers arguably the best zinger in the movie, which is saying a lot.
12. Elton always raising his hand for the hall pass.
13. The soundtrack.
14. The end kiss, of course! As with Emma, we must disregard the age difference issues and the weird incest angle. I am quite willing to do that after Josh’s adorable stuttering.
What are your favorite moments from Clueless?