image credit: Paramount

Review: Clueless (1995) ****

Is any movie more 1995 than Clueless? With a movie as witty, colorful, and fashionable as the nineties themselves, Clueless is one of those movies that I doubt will ever age.

Normally something so anachronistic would age, and badly, but Clueless taps into the same essential core of human existence as Emma by Jane Austen with an extremely effective modernized adaptation. I don’t think Jane Austen adaptations will ever die either (I sure hope they won’t).

Young women have always been something magical, which is really one of the many delightful things that Jane Austen captures in her stories. Girls can be smart, observant, funny, feisty, and opinionated, when the circumstances and adults in the vicinity allow them to be, and she’s so good at giving us women who have been indulged by a loving parent to the point where they blossom into their fullest selves.

That’s Cher here, indulged by her dad, born into a position of privilege (a lawyer’s daughter can afford to be fancy). Is she spoiled? Maybe a little bit, but Cher has such principles that you have to respect it. She will argue her way to getting anything she want. She isn’t afraid of making demands. And her demands are kind because she is kind. Try being Paul Rudd and *not* falling for your adorable sister with spicy social justice aspirations.

Wait, did I mention Paul Rudd? The man who gave an entire generation a fetish for the hot older step-brother we never had?

It’s so cute to see him here, looking only slightly shinier-faced than he does thirty years later. He’s supposed to be the kinda cool college guy. Paul Rudd is a lot of things, including adorable, but I don’t think coolguy stayed in his brand as an actor, and that’s why we love him. Well, and because the faces he makes when he’s falling for Cher are to-die-for, and we all want Paul Rudd to make those faces at us.

I guess it says a lot more about me, and where I am in my life, that my main reaction to *this* watch of Clueless was, “Oh my God everyone is so cute.” Because that’s my reaction to everyone and everything! It’s so cute!

Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd? OBVIOUSLY cute.

Donald Faison? So! Cute!

The grand Nagus marrying his nerdy teacher colleague? CUTE!

I can’t talk about how cute Brittany Murphy is without breaking into tears!

The fashion? Cuuuuuute.

Speaking of fashion, let’s talk 1995. What a year for cinema! I didn’t realize Clueless was the same year as Sabrina at first. It’s funny because I referenced the hot older step brother in my review for Sabrina. I thought that Linus should have been cast to feel like an older brother figure to Sabrina, and failing that, the script rewritten. What was in the water in 1995? Hot brother/daddy figures? I guess that explains where all my weird fetishes came from. Thanks 1995!

Anyhoo, 1995 also gave us Strange Days (very notable if not a GREAT movie), To Wong Foo, While You Were Sleeping (it’s on my to-watch list), Showgirls, Braveheart, and one of the disappointing favorites of my childhood, Pocahontas. What a vibrant year for memorable media.

Clueless stands apart from its release-year peers by being an especially wholesome embrace of girlhood and friendship and hot stepbrothers. May it never lose its shine.

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