Clueless was an instant cult classic, a modern day adaptation of Emma with way better clothes and one-liners. It was the film that defined the nineties, launching a dozen catchphrases “ugggh AS IF!” and hit songs “I’m Just a Girl”. In my mind Clueless could do no wrong and if I were stuck in a motel room called purgatory for half an eternity and could only have one film playing on loop for that span of time, it would be Clueless. So what went wrong for practically every party involved with the film after it wrapped?
The domino effect begins and ends with the film’s writer, producer, director extraordinaire Amy Heckerling. How is it that such a witty, trendsetting woman with such great ideas could go on to have such a dismal IMDB profile? What began with hits like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, European Vacation and Look Who’s Talking followed with a post-Clueless downward spiral in which Heckerling has literally not been able to produce a viable hit.The latest two examples are the trainwreck, straight to Blu-Ray movie Vamps, the vampire spoof that had the potential to be so much more than the bad farce it turned out to be. I mean logistically we had a star package on paper: Heckerling and Silverstone reunited with a side of Mr. Hall, the quirky ‘it’ girl who could-no-wrong Krysten Ritter, Dan Stevens (freaking Matthew Crawley for crying out loud!!!) and Sigourney Weaver. No one is more sad than I to declare that despite its projected potential, Vamps is an epic fail.
And tonight I finally got around to watching the Heckerling-directed Gossip Girl episode of the show’s final season. If two things should chemically work together it should be Clueless queen Amy Heckerling and the guilty pleasure, fashion-packed prodigy that is Gossip Girl, right? WRONG. The acting in this episode reached a never before reached level of cheese, even seasoned pros like Blair and Georgina couldn’t sell their half-hearted quips. Serena jumping up and down at the Harry Winston ring like a turn-of-the-century milk maid at the receipt of a long overdue letter…sad, sad, sad.
Moving on from Heckerling we still have the entire cast to tackle, firstly with Miss Cher Horowitz herself, Alicia Silverstone. Now it would be wrong to say that Alicia Silverstone’s career has suffered, she continues to pay the bills making films and starring in ill-fated television series, she does have what appears to be a happy marriage and a son named Blue Bear….But did she ever deliver a performance half as good as her tour-de-force in Clueless? Nay I say. I vividly remember going to see Excess Baggage and searching unsuccessfully for the Cher in the performance – a longterm infatuation with Benicio del Toro did however blossom that evening.. The only role that I have honestly seen a shadow of the Cher we know and love emerge was when she played Eve in Blast From the Past with Brendan Fraser.
Following Alicia, we have the next most talented and promising member of the Clueless cast: Tai, played exquisitely by Brittany Murphy. Now here was a girl who went on to do far better and more challenging material than her Clueless peers. She transformed from the slightly chubby girl with the mop of red ringlets into a teensy platinum blonde sensation. I idolized Brittany Murphy, she had boundless energy, impeccable comedic time and one hell of a singing voice to boot – plus she helped me believe that even the chubster could turn into the knockout. Is it safe to say that despite her fame and talent that even Brittany wasn’t immune to the Clueless Curse? Her tragic and untimely death was like a kick in the gut when I first heard about it, absolutely shocking and out of the blue.
Then there are Dionne, Amber, Murray, Elton, Christian and Mr. Hall. Elisa Donovan had a short run on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and doesn’t do much of interest anymore, Donald Faison had a good run on Scrubs, but I never watched that show (prefer Grey’s Anatomy) so who really cares? And Jeremy Sisto went on to make some kind of indie career for himself, of which I can only claim to have liked his performance as Earl, an obsessive, abusive, drunk husband to Keri Russell in Waitress. The only actor to remain truly unscathed in the whole debacle is Paul Rudd, the adorable, unassuming, granola step-brother Josh. He had the good luck of becoming a regular Judd Apatow fixture, the director even lets him fake bang his real life wife, Leslie Mann in movies.
It is hard to believe that Clueless came out 17 years ago…I learned how to count calories from this movie, I learned what being gay meant from this movie, I learned how to blot from this movie and that I should always have something baking when a boy comes over, I still get butterflies when I hear “Tenderness” on the radio and try to use ‘sporadic’ as often as I can in sentences, I even had a pink feathered pen for my first year of high school. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. Curse or no curse, I will always wish the best for everyone involved in that film because they were an important part of a defining era for my generation. No matter what the cast and crew did afterwards, that film won’t ever change and will continue to be exceptional.
As an added bonus to this long manifesto to the little cult classic that could, check out the video of the cast below who reunited this past October! Man did Christian ever let himself go!