When lists of the Greatest Films Ever are compiled, we tend to see the usual suspects rounded up: things like Citizen Kane, La Règle du Jeu, Tokyo Story and – as per my clever reference earlier in this sentence – Casablanca.
But those lists are always fatally flawed, because they invariably exclude one of the finest movies in history: Clueless.
I know, you’re all like, “Ugh, as if!” But it’s true. Clueless – which opened in Ireland 20 years ago today – is a work of cinematic genius. And here’s why:
1. It has the best collection of invented slang since Anthony Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange.
Cake boy, jeepin’, buggin’, Monet, Baldwin, way harsh, ensembly challenged…it’s like a whole new language. A whole new world, even.
2. Oh, and “chin pubes”.
Use that on the next sheep-like hipster you see sporting a daft Ned Kelly-sized beard.
3. It retooled Jane Austen for a new audience.
And really, as adaptations of Emma go, it pees all over that dreary costume drama with Gwyneth Paltrow.
4. It’s probably the only teen comedy ever to include a reference to Oscar Wilde.
And a narratively relevant one, at that.
5. One more literary nod.
The movie’s high school is named after one Bronson Alcott: proto-feminist, vegan proselytiser…and dad of Little Women author Louisa May.
6. It made a star out of Alicia Silverstone.
Sure, she then went on to soil her bib by appearing in Batman and Robin, but we love Alicia. She made chewing your baby’s food cool. Well, cool-ish.
Alicia Silverstone said she hasn’t been typecast since Clueless
7. It’s one of the funniest, most endlessly quotable films ever made.
8. It features characters with names like Cher and Dionne and, eh, Tai.
9. It brilliantly satirised the vacuous, narcissistic personality type of yer average well-to-do SoCal kids.
And given the social media-driven world we now inhabit, it’s more relevant than ever. The entire developed world is now over-run with Chers and Dionnes.
10. At the same time, it somehow managed to be warm and affectionate towards those kids.
If not quite laughing with them, then at least not completely laughing at them.