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Featured Blu-ray Review: Clueless

April 30th, 2012

Clueless - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Clueless came out in 1995 and was a huge hit, given the size of its budget. It also helped create a number of careers for several of the young actors involved. However, it is now nearly 20 years old, and films aimed at teenagers, especially those with emphasis in music and fashion, tend to age poorly. Does this feel like a product of the 90s? Or does it still work today?

The Movie

At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Cher Horowitz and her friend, Dionne Davenport, two high school best friends. She's having problems at home, not with her father, who adores her, but with her step-brother, Josh, who's home from college. The pair were only related for a very short period of time many years ago, but Josh remains a part of the family, much to Cher's dismay.

At school, things are no better, as Cher's grades are not as high as she would like. She's able to negotiate higher grades from all of her teachers, except Mr. Hall, her debate teacher, who gave her a C. She decides the only way to get her grade higher is to make him happy, and the only way to make him happy is to get him a date. But with whom? The English teacher, Miss Geist. It works so well she's able to raise her grade to an A.

While she originally did this to improve her grade, Cher gets such a great feeling from helping two people find each other that she decides she needs to help more people. She gets a chance when a new student, Tai Fraiser, shows up. Tai has more of a Seattle Grunge look than a California Preppy look, and Cher wants to give her a makeover. At first, Tai runs into Travis Birkenstock, one of the local skaters / stoners, and the pair hit it off. But after Cher and Dionne get her a makeover, they direct her towards a more socially acceptable date, Elton Tiscia. Will she have another matchmaking success?

She's feeling so good over her successes, that she even decides to look for love herself when she sees Christian, a student who shares a lot in common with Cher, including her fashion sense. But when that relationship crumbles, it takes her self-confidence with her, and her world starts to fall apart.

I think I've seen this film about a dozen times and I own it on DVD, twice. I was even a fan of the TV show. While there are aspects of the film that show it is a product of the 1990s, the overall story still stands up. This is partially because it is based on a book that is closing in on 200 years old (specifically, Emma by Jane Austen). It is also elevated by the charisma of its cast, as well as the strength of the writing. While it is based on a story by Jane Austen, writer / director Amy Heckerling certainly added her touch to the film. Her dialogue is particularly memorable. It is not quite as quotable as Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Johnny Dangerously, two films she had directed earlier, she sure knows how to direct dialogue in a snappy fashion. It all comes together to create a film that is both superficial and deep, and above all, very entertaining.

The Extras

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray is mostly shovelware. There are seven featurettes including a retrospective, a featurette on the fashion, the clothing, etc. In total, there's more than an hour of featurettes here. The only new extra is a Clue or False trivia quiz that plays during the movie. As for the film's presentation on high definition, it is certainly a step up from the DVD, but not something that you will use to show off your home theater system. Every aspect of the video is great from the level of details, the colors, the blacks, etc. However, it's great, but it is showing its age / budget. After all, it cost less than $14 million to make and came out nearly 20 years ago, so it can't compare to a big budget film made today. Fortunately, there are no compression issues and there's no sign of digital manipulation, so this is likely as good as it will ever look. Likewise, the audio is very clear, especially the dialogue, but there's not a lot of activity in the surround sound speakers or the subwoofer.

The Verdict

Clueless is a movie that I enjoy every time I see it, and I've seen it a lot. The Blu-ray is not quite shovelware and the audio and video quality is a little better than expected. Right now on Amazon.com, it costs just $11.99, which is a bargain. It's worth the upgrade and if you don't have it already, grab it now.


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Filed under: Video Review, Clueless