AS IF! by Jen Chaney


The Oral History of Clueless as Told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew
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The legacy of the 1995 movie described as "a Rodeo Drive version of Jane Austen's Emma.”

Pop-culture journalist Chaney, a former staff writer for the Washington Post, examines the enduring popularity of the teen comedy Clueless, written and directed by Amy Heckerling. The movie is an update of Austen's 1815 comedy of manners about a spoiled, self-assured matchmaker. Chaney’s interview subjects, who include the film’s producers, filmmakers, designers, actors, and artists, repeatedly "express[ed] feelings often bathed in warmth and nostalgia for a time that not only shaped their careers but, on many days, was just a joy.” Many of the contributors coo over star Alicia Silverstone's adorable nature—e.g., associate producer Twink Caplan: "she was so pure, Alicia, so sweet and just a joy, just really a joy, you know.” The tell-all aspect of the book consists of saccharine and tedious accounts about how it was "a happy movie to watch and…a largely happy movie to make as well” and how the set was “a harmonious, low-key environment.” As composer David Kitay notes, “it was just this awesome haze of fun.” Later, Chaney argues weakly for "The Impact of Clueless" since the movie's release—though “the virgin who can’t drive” remains timeless—and she oversteps in her claim that it demonstrates how women in the early 21st century are disciples of protagonist Cher Horowitz. The author focuses more on the movie's influence on fashion and language than her subchapter titled "The Impact of Clueless on: Girl Power and Progressiveness" would suggest. Her position that Clueless was a culturally significant movie with an enduring legacy is more fitting for Heckerling—who proved the Hollywood naysayers wrong about the film's marketability, eventually selling it to Scott Rudin—and the resourceful and assertive women in media and academia who followed her.

For Clueless obsessives—and perhaps Jane Austen fans.

Pub Date: July 7th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4767-9908-7
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2015


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