Paramount Home Video presents
Clueless ("Whatever!" Edition) (1995)
"As if!"- Cher (Alicia Silverstone)
Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Jeremy Sisto, Paul Rudd
Other Stars: Dan Hedaya, Wallace Shawn, Twink Caplan
Director: Amy Heckerling
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sex-related dialogue and some teen use of alcohol and drugs
Run Time: 01h:37m:05s
Release Date: 2005-08-30
DVD ReviewNothing brings back the wistful days of early adolescence in the first Clinton Administration quite like Clueless—the self-consciousness of the film leaves the clear impression that it's bidding for a place in the time capsule, and this tenth anniversary edition is a reminder that pop-culture references are as ephemeral as fashion; you wouldn't want to be making references that are so five minutes ago any more than you would be caught dead in last year's shoes. That is if you're Cher Horowitz, the heroine of Amy Heckerling's good-hearted teen comedy; Cher is probably headed for her first Botox injection right about now, but here's a chance to revisit her salad days.
Alicia Silverstone had little more than those overplayed Aerosmith videos to her credit when she was cast in the lead here, a fierce Beverly Hills litigator's daughter interested in fashion, fashion, boys and fashion. Her best friend, Dionne, clashes with her boyfriend, Murray; but our Cher is much more studied about her own romantic life. Should her beau of choice be Elton, who is dreamy, interested and unattached? Or perhaps the nattily attired Christian, just in from Chicago, who seems just a little too perfectly put together, and lavishing just a bit too much attention on bartenders and waiters? Gumming up the works for Cher is her stepbrother, Josh—a few years older and at UCLA, in his Amnesty International t-shirt and obligatory mid-90s flannel he is the perfect sartorial contrast to Cher, the poster girl for maxing out Daddy's credit card on Rodeo Drive.
There's something a bit too studied and self-conscious about a lot of this movie—with characters named after '60s and '70s pop music icons (Cher, Dionne, Elton), you can't escape the impression that Heckerling is condescending to her characters a little bit, and is more interested in being seen as clever and in the vanguard than in anything else. But there's a real sweetness to the movie, too—it comes across especially in Cher's relationship with Tai, the new girl at the school, who becomes her protégé—Cher's high standards for herself and her circle may be shallow, but she's got her own admirable moral code. She's committed to doing out-of-school reading, for instance; her choices include such groundbreaking literature as Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
It's really rather endearing to watch her play Cupid with her frumpy debate teacher and politically committed guidance counselor; in story terms, in fact, a lot of what's most effective here comes straight from Jane Austen, because Clueless is a self-acknowledged straight lift from Emma. (One wonders what Miss Austen would make of cell phones and Cliffs Notes.) With the passing years, it can be a struggle to keep up with all of the pop-culture allusions; no doubt some desperate misguided PhD student one day will produce an annotated version of the film. It's fun to puzzle through these; aging far less well are Heckerling's many, many jokes about the bad driving of teenage girls, principally because these are without punchlines.
Silverstone is asked to carry the whole movie, more or less, and she's up to it; her Cher is really a sweet little ditzy thing, not stupid but not much interested in school, a pretty and charming little airhead who's never going to be a rocket scientist, but whose heart is in the right place. The other teen actors are more or less adequate; really ripping it up, though, is Dan Hedaya, as Cher's father, a bulldog lawyer with a soft spot for his little girl. It's not really a great movie, nor an accurate one, but it is fun and sweet and smart, and displays a good-natured generosity and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that are so often absent from the run-of-the-mill teen comedies with which it should not be confused.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: This disc looks far better than previous editions of the movie; colors are bright and saturated, and the only impairment are a couple of very nasty scratches on the last reel or so of the feature.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
|DS 2.0||English, French||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: Good, solid work on the audio transfer; it's a very, very strange experience to flip through the audio tracks and to hear the pretty young things of Beverly Hills speaking in French.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Airplane!, Charmed: The Complete First Season, Mad Hot Ballroom, Tommy Boy: Holy Schnike Edition, Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season ,The Brady Bunch: The Complete First Season
1 TV Spots/Teasers
Extras Review: An array of featurettes bring the special to this special edition. The Class of '95 (18m:29s) focuses on casting, with director Amy Heckerling and producer Twink Caplan; it features on-set interviews from back in the day with several cast members, along with some new sit downs, with Brittany Murphy, among others. (Ms. Silverstone seems not to have participated in this special edition. Whatever.) Heckerling goes over the production history, and her debts to Miss Austen and producer Scott Rudin, in Creative Writing (09m:38s); Fashion 101 (10m:46s) is a chance for costume designer Mona May to work it, and to ponder whether or not this movie was trend setting, or more of a joke. Heckerling provides a glossary of sorts in Language Arts (08m:08s); Suck 'N Blow (02m:47s) is a tutorial on Cher's favorite party game. The logistical nightmares of shooting freeway scenes are the subject of Driver's Ed (03m:49s); We're History (08m:50s) is seemingly about the film's reception, but is really about how much the cast loves their director. All in all, not a spectacular package, but there are some insights to be gleaned.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsMore fun than a trip to the Galleria and with none of the calories of an iced blended from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Clueless is sometimes a little too clever for its own good, but it's still sweet and smart and fun. And Cher would be pleased at how well accessorized it is on this special edition DVD—a girl can't ever have too many outfits or featurettes.
Jon Danziger 2005-08-29