The SmarK Blu-ray Rant – Clueless

The SmarK Blu-ray Rant – Clueless                (purchase it here)

“I’ve got a .45 and a shovel.  Believe me, no one’s gonna miss you.”

–          Cher’s dad lays down the law, although he needn’t have worried.

This is the Blu-Ray redo of the “Whatever Edition” of the movie, which came out on DVD in 2005.  The movie itself is very much a product of the ’90s, as protagonist Alicia Silverstone is pretty much the defining star of that decade via her Aerosmith videos.  And yet the movie pulls off a neat trick, being both incredibly dated (everyone has cell phones!  How CRAZY!)  and yet timeless in the humor because it’s not based on any actual trends.

Originally conceived as a TV series and then changed into a movie by director Amy Heckerling after things didn’t pan out with the network, Clueless is very loosely based on the novel Emma by Jane Austen.  Given that it was originally intended to be a shorter series of 22 minute episodes, the plot is structured much differently than your standard teen comedy.  The story centers on Cher (Silverstone), the spoiled daughter of a California lawyer, and her collegiate stepbrother played by Paul Rudd.  Rudd, astonishingly, looks exactly the same at 20 as he does today.  Faces that are now familiar abound here as unknowns, including Breckin Meyer as a burnout skateboarder, Scrubs’ Donald Faison as a wannabe gangsta, and Brittany Murphy in her first big role as Cher’s makeover project Tai.

What charmed me so much, though, was that this is a very smart movie about people who are kind of dumb, or at least clueless at times (see what I did there?).  And it’s really funny.  I had never seen this movie before reviewing it, although it’s one of my wife’s all-time favorites, and I can see why.  It’s endlessly quotable, and witty without being pretentious.  For example, Cher is dating the hottest guy in school, Christian, and the movie slowly drops hints about his true nature in remarkably patient fashion until someone finally comes out and explains it for Cher (and anyone else in the audience who didn’t get it once he started bringing Tony Curtis movies over to her house to watch).  And the script is awesome (“So how I feel about the Rolling Stones, is how my kids are gonna feel about Nine Inch Nails” and “I left my Cranberries CD out in the quad” are just wonderfully delivered lines, to name two off the top of my head).  The movie is more or less broken down into Pilot Episode (introducing the cast of characters, Cher tries to marry off her teacher), Party Episode (Cher and friends sneak out to a party in the valley and Cher tries to match up two friends), Cher & Christian (Cher tries to find love with her dream guy, in what turns out to be the funniest segment) and finally Cher Learns To Drive (also hilarious, especially when she learns that there’s some things you can’t bullshit your way out of.)

To sum up:  Witty, hilarious script?  Check.  Alicia Silverstone at her hotness peak?  Check.  Quotes out the wazoo?  Check.  Easy points with the wife/girlfriend/one night stand?  CHECK.  An easy recommendation, well worth watching if you’ve never seen it before.

Audio & Video

This is a rare case recently where the Blu-Ray dump of a previous release actually features a better looking video transfer than before!  What a concept!  The picture is now crystal clear and looks like an HD movie made today, with bright colors and great contrasts.  Either that or the original DVD was really spectacular, but given Paramount’s previous history with this stuff (like Airplane and The Naked Gun, two lazy untouched DVD transfers to Blu Ray last year) I’m just glad it’s such a great-looking BD.  Audio is not quite as impressive, although it’s a teen comedy so you get what you get.  A great job on Paramount’s part, regardless.

Bonus Features

As noted, this is the exact same content as the “Whatever Edition” from 2005, so you get a variety of interesting featurettes (like a “10 years later” series of interviews, a look at the driving sequences from the perspective of people from New York trying to drive in LA, and other fun stuff) and HD versions of the trailers.  A good selection of stuff.

The Pulse

I requested this one mostly for my wife, and I was pretty surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  Don’t be thrown off by the pink cover and dated trappings, it’s a shockingly hilarious take on teen movies, witty and self-aware without being precious and annoying about it.  Big thumbs up.

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