I would have never been interested in Clueless were it not for the fact that it is a light adaptation of Emma. I probably would not have cared for it much either were it not for that.
Clueless feels a bit like Mean Girls, only set in the 1990s instead of the 2000s, though it focuses on popular girl Cher (Emma), who decides to befriend new girl Tai (Harriet), who she sees as a project.
First I’ll get my complaints out of the way. I know that this movie is just depicting teenage life, not necessarily condoning all aspects of it, but I really had a problem with the drug usage in this movie. There’s not a ton of it, and I know for most people it will seem overly sensitive of me to feel this way, but this sort of thing is exactly why I don’t read many YA contemporaries. I didn’t hang out with those kinds of people, and I don’t have an interest in reading about them/watching them on screen. I expected there might be some sex talk and language, especially within a crowd of popular kids, but I was surprised by the drugs. It’s something I would expect more from, well, the kids like Travis (Robert Martin), but even that bothered me. Anyhow, at least he was turning around in the end.
Also, stereotypical popular girl characters just annoy me in general, which is a reason why I don’t really like Mean Girls that much. I can appreciate the satirical writing, but I don’t connect with the characters. The same applies here with Clueless.
One last thing, does it bother anyone else that Josh (Knightley) is Cher’s ex-stepbrother? I’ve never had a stepbrother before, but that seems really awkward to be kissing yours a few years after your parents divorce, even if you were only related legally for a little while…
What I did appreciate was the journey Cher went on. Though she does start off pretty much the way you would expect based on stereotypes and cliches, she does grow through the film. As she learns to appreciate people for who they are and learns to think beyond herself, she really becomes a better person and friend, and I appreciated that. Her character arc and Josh’s character were really the main highlights of the film. And drawing the Emma comparisons, with some of the differences between the original and the film turning up a little surprising…
Clueless is also quotable and has some fun moments in it, but I definitely don’t have the same endearment for it as Emma Approved or other Emma adaptations. It’s still worth at least a watch though if you’re a fan of the original story and interested in the idea.