One of my favorite movies of all time is Clueless. It is a classic movie, and having grown up in the 90s, it was my teen movie. I remember going to see it with a friend of mine and immediately loving it. Now, with the 20th anniversary of that movie, As If: The Oral History of Clueless commemorates the movie’s milestone anniversary, all of its influence, and also explores the importance of the movie. Jen Chaney, a writer and journalist, conducted a series of interviews with the movie’s creators, writers, directors, actors and actresses, producers, and crew. It’s a fun trip down memory lane, and a reminder of just how great this movie is.
When the movie came out in the summer of 1995, I was still a teenager, and up until then, my generation hadn’t had it’s own teen movie. Yes, 90210 was still on, and was still really popular, and Party of Five and Melrose Place were just beginning. So there were teen shows, there just hadn’t been any teen movies.
The bulk of the book is made up of Chaney’s interviews with the movie’s writer and director, Amy Heckerling. Heckerling had already written and directed a teen classic, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. That movie became the quintessential 80s teen movie, years before John Hughes would make his mark. Clueless became the quintessential 90s teen movie. Here, she talks about the screenplay, casting process, production of the movie, and the movie’s premiere. At the end, she talks in depth about the film’s ongoing influence. She also talks about the movie’s influence of Jane Austen’s Emma, which is what the movie is loosely based on. Emma was Austen’s matchmaker – and Clueless’s main character Cher takes on that role, in a hilarious and memorable way.
The movie became a cultural icon, and it’s still one of my favorites. It really launched Alicia Silverstone’s career, along with a few others. One person missing from the interviews is of course Britney Murphy, but at the end of the book the stars of the movie, and Heckling herself, share their memories of her. I loved reading through all of the interview, and it was interesting to learn that this movie that became so successful and so iconic, had trouble getting off the ground. Heckerling shares the difficulties she had getting the movie made – but having learned that, I’m happy she overcame those obstacles!
This book is only for fans of the movie – and those fans who read the book won’t be disappointed!