Austen's Tale gets a Make Over
Isn't my house classic? The columns date all the way back to 1972 - Cher
Regular readers of my movie reviews will know I am not the biggest book worm and when I do read it tends not to be classic literature, so you can guess what is coming, I've never read Jane Austen's "Emma" the story which writer and director Amy Heckerling has based "Clueless" on. That maybe why I am not such a fan of the movie as others, as rather than being an amusing modern take on a classic tale what I watched is a teen comedy about a spoilt rich kid who is the queen bee at her school but learns a few things by the time the movie ends. And of course being a high school movie we get comedy, romance, cliques and various other cliche elements which fill other high school movies full of embellished teenage turmoil's. It's fun, it features Alicia Silverstone in one of her best performances and several other recognizable stars but "Clueless" is for me average.
Cher (Alicia Silverstone - Batman & Robin) is one of the most popular girls at her high school, she sets fashion trends and boys would love to date her. When she receives lower grades than she expects she decides to play cupid and match make two teachers and in doing so put them in a better mood and dishing out higher grades. Inspired by her noble deed she decides to take new girl Tai (Brittany Murphy - Just Married) under her wings and as well as giving her a make over try and find her a boyfriend as well. But her plans misfire and in doing so she learns some surprising facts about herself and who she really fancies.
So as already pointed out I've never read Jane Austin's "Emma" and whilst I know "Clueless" is a modern version I don't how close the story follows the original. But as such "Clueless" ends up just another high school movie, one which is all about a spoilt and naive rich kid who does try to do good but often for shallow reasons. Now to be honest the life of Cher Horowitz is fun from her cunning ways of getting her grades raised through to ignorance that life doesn't basically revolve around her. And the storyline nicely evolves as she decides to take misfit Tai under her wings and make her basically an IT girl but in doing so learns stuff about herself and who she likes that she never realised. But it all feels like I've seen it all before, the glimpse at school life, the cliques, and the teachers and so on is just too familiar.
Of course this look at the world of Cher delivers various teenage issues from being virgins, too partying, who to be friends with and social expectations in a simple fun manner. And to be honest Amy Heckerling does a wonderful job of making fun from making Cher an embellished real character, through to the pacing and also the other characters. Whether the story really grabs you with its less than surprising romantic twist the humour of it all will most certainly make you smile.
A big reason why "Clueless" does work comes down to the casting of Alicia Silverstone as not only is she attractive but also gets across the naivety of her character with just enough being a dumb blonde. It's because of this, because Cher is shallow but not cruel whilst also naive yet not stupid makes us like her and appreciate that whilst she is manipulative also has a good heart. It's basically a well created character as well as a well acted one but Cher is not the only good character as Brittany Murphy's Tia is just as interesting a character. Plus there are plenty of recognizable faces lurking in the cast in early roles before they became really famous such as Paul Rudd, Donald Faison and Breckin Meyer.
What this all boils down to is that for me "Clueless" is a fun movie but just another high school comedy about teen life and teen turmoil's. But I am sure for those who know Jane Austin's "Emma" will enjoy it more with it's update to a modern setting.
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