Screen Junkies » clueless Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:26:30 +0000 en hourly 1 Soundtrack Studies: ‘Clueless’ Tue, 03 Jun 2014 19:31:56 +0000 Penn Collins This film has an appearance by an ageless Paul Rudd and a soundtrack with Radiohead. It's very blessed.

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Amy Heckerling demonstrated in her direction of Fast Times at RidgemontHigh (a film that, bafflingly, isn’t known at all for its soundtrack) that she is able to take a snapshot of youth at a very specific time period, and nail the intricacies of that moment in time, all while conveying a story that endures far beyond the plaid skirts, tight jeans, malls, and Jeeps.

Revisiting the Clueless soundtrack, which was a favorite of mine at the time of its release, which coincided with my foray into high school, I remembered why I liked it almost instantly. Despite being somewhat “edgy,” it never strays from its pleasantness. The same can be said for the film, but not so much for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which dives into darker subject matter.

So when we accompany Alicia Silverstone, Breckin Meyer, Brittany Murphy, Jeremy Sisto, and Paul Rudd (PAUL RUDD!) on this ambling little tale, we’re bombarded with cuteness that helps sell the humor, rather than undermine it. For instance, Cher’s “date” with her gay classmate could have been painful, but instead of focusing on the issue at hand, we’re myopically focused on Cher trying to overachieve on her date, failing every step of the way, then walking away from it baffled.

The cuteness (Cher’s over-the-top effort) combined with the mild, mild edge (a gay teenager in 1995) lifts Clueless into a relatable teenage experience, but much more fun. And in Beverly Hills.

So what we get to accompany that logline musically is a soundtrack that contains at least one song to satisfy everyone at the party. However, as I mentioned in the Judgment Night write-up, trying to make everyone happy with one album is normally a great way to piss everyone off. However, just as with the film, the edge is sanded down so that the shape remains the same, just with no sharp corners.

Here’s the track listing for this cuddly little soundtrack:

The whole thing really makes you want to dance. Even the acoustic version of Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead. Though that makes me dance because I’m elated by the fact that Radiohead was once a band trying to make it, and appearing on soundtracks to Alicia Silverstone movies. But mostly, the bubble gumminess of it all is the charm. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are playing a warehouse party in the film with the imminently sing-along-able “Where Did You Go?” The Muffs take on the breezy “Kids in America.” The Counting Crows doing whatever the hell it was that they did in the 90’s. Supergrass continuing to confuse me with a band name too similar to Superdrag. Etc.

And a Coolio song as a minor plot point in the film. Even bands that don’t make an appearance on the OST manage to make an appearance, as with Elton’s adorably dated “I left my Cranberries CD in the quad.”

Whatever, Elton. GOD!

"Rollin' with the homies"

There isn’t some grand thesis underlying this soundtrack. I remember it fondly and wanted to revisit it. So I did, and was relieved to find it still held up as well as I hoped it would.

Even though Radiohead was still a hungry band at this point, before they started giving away their albums for “whatever people felt like paying,” they had still demonstrated taste and talent with Pablo Honey and The Bends. So unless you think you’re better than fuckin’ Radiohead, you should give the Clueless soundtrack a re-listen.

If you’re still considering whether or not you’re better than Radiohead, let me accelerate the process. You’re not. You’re far, far worse than Radiohead, and you always will be.

Thanks for your time.

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]]> 0 2012-04-28 10.54.55 am "Rollin' with the homies"
How To Make A Film That Withstands the Test of Time Wed, 07 Sep 2011 15:17:48 +0000 Penn Collins What do Wes Anderson films have in common with 'Clueless'? You can watch them a decade later without wanting to gouge your eyes out.

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As the type of person who regularly finds himself being spoon-fed cable movies as a result of a remarkably sedentary lifestyle, I’m frequently revisiting beloved movies of my youth with curiously mixed results. If one was to take a sampling of the movies I enjoyed from my childhood and teenage years, only a fraction hold my interest today. Of course, many of the rejects can be attributed to the fact that my tastes in films have changed. This is an easy, answer. Too easy, in fact.

It’s dismissive to assume that a film that fails to hold up after twenty or ten or two years is the result of a change in the viewer. Many of these films were not designed to hold up. Sprinkled with popular references, dated soundtracks, and borderline-retarded notions of what the future had in store for us, some films have a cultural shelf life that’s about as long as an episode of Access Hollywood.

The durability of films from this era is a curious phenomenon. One movie that completely exists in its time, like Clueless, holds up extremely well, having made the transition from “topical” to “charming,” while a movie like Wayne’s World captures a similar point in time and a similar niche, also developing its own weird vocabulary for its characters. I use these two examples because a) they act as an example and a cautionary tale, respectively, and b) both of these films were extremely well-received and regarded as “important” in their day.

So how does Clueless stay with us after these years, while Wayne’s World shakes out as borderline unwatchable? (Wayne’s World 2 even more so, but mostly because it’s just a terrible film)

These are just two examples of films that either fight or give in to the ravages of time. Comedies seem especially prone, as does any film that tries to tell us what the future will be like. The recipe to make a film popular at the time of its release is by no means the same one used to insure it’s popularity a decade, or even a few years later.

The touch-points required to last aren’t exactly rocket science, but striking the balance between contemporary relevance and durability is bit trickier. In order to ensure that I can sit around like a beached whale on Sundays while enjoying the highest caliber of entertainment from the past 20 years, I’ve compiled a definitive guide of how things should be done so that I may enjoy your film in 2017 as much as I enjoyed it in 2011.

You’re welcome in advance, Hollywood.

Stay Away From Technology You Don’t Understand. Seriously. Stay Away From It. You Never Will Never Get It Right And You Will Look Ridiculous.

Before I go any further with the categories and examples, it warrants mentioning that a bad movie, no matter how much it sticks to these magnificent guidelines I’m  laying out, won’t stand the test of time. It won’t be popular or “good” when it’s at its most relevant, so don’t expect it to age from vinegar to wine as time marches on. Bad movies will always be bad, whereas good movies can remain as such, or lose their luster over time.

Bad Examples: Disclosure, The Lawnmower Man, The Net, Hackers, Jurassic Park

Good Examples: You’ve Got Mail, Sneakers, Enemy of the State, Back to the Future 2, Jurassic Park

Make reasonable assumptions about the future of technology. When you make huge leaps forward, at least do them with enough creativity that they seem like an inspired inclusion (powerlaces, hoverboards, dinosaur cloning) rather than some half-assed stab at what the future might bring (any scene from 1991-1997 that involved virtual reality, hackers with nose rings).

If your cool characters are “techies,” make them cool people that happen to be techies, like in Sneakers, rather than people who are cool because they’re techies, like in Hackers or that obnoxious little girl Lex from Jurassic Park.

Move forward simply and no one will get hurt. You’ve Got Mail, while not a personal favorite, added simple logical elements (email, internet dating) to staid concepts (pen pals, blind dating). While AOL might as well be making buggy whips these days, the genetics of the concept nonetheless read as quaint, rather than ephemeral.

If you’re going to dabble in technology, think long and hard about how this will look in one short decade if you’re wrong. Don’t worry about what happens if you’re right. It happens so rarely, it’s not really worth considering.

Celebrity Cameos: Bob Barker, But Not Jerry Springer

Bad Examples: Austin Powers 2, Dodgeball, Friends with Benefits

Good Examples: Singles, Wayne’s World, Zoolander, Happy Gilmore, Jerry Maguire

If you want to allow your viewers to watch the film without being ripped out of its universe, don’t toss in some flavor-of-the-month that people will have to rack their brain to understand the significance of years after it occurs. Having your characters resolve their problems on The Jerry Springer Show wasn’t particularly inspired when Austin Powers 2 did it in 1999. It seems downright lazy and unfunny now, just like the Springer show itself. Same with Shaun White in Friends with Benefits, Ryan Seacrest in Knocked Up, and Tabitha Soren (or anyone from MTV) in Black Sheep’s painfully dated “Rock the Vote” scene. (Shame on you, Mudhoney. Shame on your eyes.)

Topical cameos can be funny, so long as they’re absurd or relevant enough to hold up. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where Billy Zane didn’t pop up in Zoolander, nor Pearl Jam in Singles. The fact remains that, in these universes, Zane was supposed to be at that fashion show and walk-off, and Pearl Jam were supposed to be dicking around at a coffee shop in Seattle in 1992. Dr. Evil and Scotty weren’t supposed to be on Springer, but they were there nonetheless. And it doesn’t feel right.

Bob Barker wasn’t supposed to be beating the living hell out of Happy Gilmore, but the absurdity of it sells it, because Bob Barker is so not supposed to be in the film, let alone punching Happy. That it’s ridiculous enough to swing back around to durable.

Further: No reality television star references or appearances. Ever.  No one in 2025 will be happy that Omarosa or Evan Marriott appeared in an Adam Sandler film. You probably don’t even know who those people are, which solidifies my point.

Click ‘Next Page’ to continue…

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]]> 0 tumblr_ljasfokDGN1qbbjyco1_500 Screen shot 2011-09-02 at 4.16.00 PM
9 Stinkers That Prove ‘Romancing The Stone: The Series’ Is A Bad Idea Wed, 31 Aug 2011 23:19:14 +0000 Penn Collins It turns out that Clooney and Aniston made the same mistakes as Baio and Danza by starring in these stinkers.

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Word is oozing out of Hollywood today that the ephemeral romantic adventure film Romancing the Stone is going to become a TV series. Sweet. Adapting films for ill-advised (and usually short-lived) TV series is a hallowed Hollywood tradition, albeit one that proves misguided almost every time.

With the pedigree of TV adaptations before it, I wouldn’t get too attached to Romancing the Stone: The Series! or whatever it’s going to be called. These things have a way of not only getting canceled, but completely disappearing from the cultural consciousness in the bat of an eye just like these shows did.

9. Ferris Bueller

None of the charm of the original, but with a lot more Jennifer Aniston. The role of Ferris was played by some kid that exuded all the bad characteristics of Zack Morris with none of the good ones. If you wanted to experience the charm of Ferris Bueller in a setting a few years later, I would strongly suggest Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, which much better capture the spirit of Ferris while also featuring characters that aren’t cartoonish photocopies of those in the original film.

8. The Youn Indiana Jones Chronicles

The 1992 show was created and produced by George Lucas, which means it could have been terrific or absolutely ridiculous. As it would turn out, the show was only pretty ridiculous, not bad enough to the point that people remember it. Sort of like Ron Artest.

George Lucas handpicked River Phoenix to play the titular character, but it turns out that such a request is only effective if the person in question accepts the request. Phoenix did not, so the role was played by Sean  Patrick Flannery, who was still a few years away from ripping out my heart and stomping on it as that bald albino, Powder. The hour long show had the weight of Lucas behind it, but little else and was canned after 14 months, which somehow is listed as “three seasons” on Wikipedia.

7. Clueless

The TV adaptation of the iconic film didn’t aspire to offer the same scoio-cultural commentary of the 1995 film, nor did it aspire to even offer the same level of charm or wit. While Alicia Silverstone, Breckin Meyer, and Paul Rudd didn’t find their way back to the series, the characters of Dionne, Murray, and Amber were all played by their original actors.

The show ran out its first season in the TGIF lineup on ABC, but then got sent down to the bush leagues at UPN where it ran for another respectable two seasons before fading into the ether.

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Summer Movies Like “American Pie” Fri, 08 Jul 2011 17:48:22 +0000 Breakstudios If you look hard enough, you can find few summer movies that will appease your need to laugh at the misfortunes of teenagers.

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Summer movies like American Pie are not terribly easy to come by. This is probably because raunchy teen comedies aren’t usually commercially successful enough to qualify as summer blockbusters like American Pie did. But that doesn’t stop the studios from trying, which means that if you look hard enough, you can find few that will appease your need to laugh at the misfortunes of teenagers. We all need to beat the heat somehow right?


The American Pie sequels

It may seem obvious, but the best way to get your fix of summer movies like American Pie is to go straight to the source. That is, check out the sequels. Both of the sequels in the “official series,” American Pie 2 and American Wedding, have the same sensibility as the first American Pie movie (duh), and they were released in the summer too. Why settle for an imitation when you can get authentic-Jason-Biggs-sexually-humiliating-himself action?



Alicia Silverstone getting mugged in Clueless

While it may not have the same level of raunchiness as American Pie, Clueless qualifies due to their similarly comedic approaches to life as an American teenager. If you’re looking for scenes of apple pies getting penetrated, look elsewhere. But if you just want to laugh at teenagers in a sunny outdoor milieu—i.e. teenagers being stupid in Southern California—you’ve come to the right place!


Bring It On

Kirsten Dunst's "naked" dream in Bring It On

Hey, not all summer movies like American Pie are masterpieces. But Bring It On is high school movie that came out in the summer—what else do you want? Bring It On is a little more by-the-book than American Pie, focusing on a climactic cheer leading competition and all, but it still shares a certain sensibility with it—which is again, laughing at teenagers as they struggle with their “problems”. It also follows in the grand American Pie tradition of having a ton of direct-to-video sequels that have almost nothing to do with the original. Not to mention, it features Hottie McHotkins (AKA Eliza Dusku) and Kirsten Dunst back when she was still cute.



McLovin' dancing in Superbad

Finally, a summer movie like American Pie that actually comes close to matching its raunchiness factor. In the language-and-crudely-drawn-penises department, anyway. Its plot, involving two teenagers on a mad quest to get laid makes it similar to American Pie, and as an added bonus, most would agree that Superbad is a funnier, better, and more authentic depiction of teenage life than American Pie. So what we’re really trying to say is that what you should be looking for is “summer movies like Superbad.”


The House Bunny

Girls post makeover in House Bunny

If this list is any indication, a good chunk of summer movies like American Pie are targeted at the fairer sex. The House Bunny is no different, featuring Anna Farris as a former Playboy bunny who becomes a sorority house mother. And unlike a lot of teen  comedies, it actually got a fair amount of critical praise, albeit praise that singled out Anna Farris’ performance as being somewhat too good for the material. Still, it counts.


Your search for summer movies like American Pie might last until your dying breath, but this list should make your quest a little easier. If nothing else, the movies on this list will make remembering YOUR awkward teenage years that much easier/funnier. And if you’re still in your teenage years now, uh, sorry?

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]]> 0 jason_biggs_american_pie_2 Jason Biggs with his hand down his pants in American Pie 2 clueless Alicia Silverstone getting mugged in Clueless Bring_It_On Kirsten Dunst's "naked" dream in Bring It On Superbad McLovin' dancing in Superbad House-Bunny Girls post makeover in House Bunny