In honor of Valentines Month, I thought I'd do something a little bit special and feature a few movies I tend to enjoy with solid female leads. Further to that, each of these is considered a "Teen Movie", so there's always a coming of age aspect to them, from the women's perspective. First up, we have 1995's 'Clueless'; a film that I completely ignored back in the day, considering it "far too girly" - how immature I was.
Fast-forward a few years, however, and I actually watch it, developing a newfound respect for it. This is one of the prime examples I can think of when it comes to not judging a movie by its cover. Just to add a twist of class to it as well, this is also loosely based on Jane Austin's 'Emma', originally published in 1851. So it's like, totally one of those modern take flicks.
We are introduced to socially popular material girl, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone). She lives in California with her wealthy and successful father, Mel (Dan Hedaya), who we soon learn encourages Cher's success by manipulation when she shows him her grades. Cher sees herself as a matchmaker, and when she successfully hooks up a couple of her teachers, Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) and Miss Gueist (Twink Caplan), she continues to fancy herself the expert and tries to play "Cupid" for several other people, believing she knows what's best for everyone, and further considering these hook-ups "good deeds".
Meanwhile, Cher's ex-stepbrother, Josh (Paul Rudd) visits during a college break. The two bicker over things like his idealism and her personality, but do so in a playful way. The thing is, Cher doesn't quite understand that some things Josh has to say about her may just be more accurate than not. This is more or less concluded when a new girl named Tai (Brittany Murphy) comes to the school, and Cher takes her on as a project, along with the help of her best friend, Dionne (Stacey Dash) assuming that they're helping her with her popularity. The thing is, it ends up working too well, and eventually Cher begins to question her place in the chain of popularity, along with her attitude and feelings towards certain people in her life.
I think what I like best about this movie is that, if you haven't seen it before, it ends up taking you by surprise. This is a film that, on the surface, looks like it's just going to be about a handful of popular girls doing popular girl stereotype things. It pretty much starts out as one might imagine. The thing is, the film turns the tables on the viewer a little by portraying things like Cher not just being some blonde stereotype, she's actually pretty clever about certain things. Add to that the fact that we have a female lead whose love life isn't the focus of the film. The focus of the film, relationship-wise, has more to do with the side characters while she's in the middle of it all. It all becomes a learning experience for her, instead of just having her as some match-making hero.
I'm not gonna lie, this never really dragged me into its cult following, but it does tend to be one I sort of admire from afar. I respect this movie and the story it tells, and I do love the way it surprises the viewer by giving us what we fear it might be, followed by something that catches you a little off-guard. It's a bit of a 50/50 film in that sense, at least from my perspective. I could easily see this as a go-to for a "feel-good" movie, and it certainly has developed a following over the years. It has been dubbed by some to be one of the best teen movies of all time, and it has gone on to be considered a classic of sorts. I would extend that to include 90's movies in general, as it's very representative of the era it was released - right in the middle, with a 1995 release date. This one is easily accessible through various streaming services, so don't let the movie poster deter you from what could be a pretty solid viewing experience like I did for so long.