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Clueless: What It Was & What It Became

Saturday, July 18, 2015
This was my first Facebook status update of 2015:


I wasted no time ringing in the new year to recognize that my favoritest of favorites had a special birthday this year. I've basically been celebrating all year, but am excited that tomorrow officially marks its 20th anniversary.

Though so totally '90s, you've likely been hearing about this anniversary across media outlets — and there's a reason for that.

I chatted with David Fannon, EVP of  free movie and television streaming platform Popcornflix to get his industry take on Clueless' impact 20 years later.

Were there any movies in 1995 that were slated to be icons/big hits that seem to be overshadowed by Clueless' long-term success?
1995 was a great year for film: Toy Story, The Usual Suspects, Braveheart, Heat, Se7en, As Good As It Gets. There were also some really great cult classics, like Kids or Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming; although neither were box office successes, they were both great glimpses into youth culture. I think the reason Clueless stands out over those is just how colorful and exuberant it is. It’s witty and insightful, sure, but it’s also ridiculously fun. That speaks to audiences in a big way. 

Is it fair to say this was the first real "teen" movie of the '90s? 
Looking back at the early teen movies of the '90s, one that stands out to me is Dazed and Confused. But that movie is so steeped in nostalgia, it works in both ways: it’s a movie that teens now can relate to, as well as to adults who were those '70s teens. But Clueless is so successful just by being grounded in its time and place, and because it really knows who those teenage kids are, what their voice is. I think that’s why it’s such a standout of the decade.


Considering the Beverly Hills setting is out of reach for a majority of its audience, why do you think the movie resonated with people? (e.g. Molly Ringwald in the '80s may have seemed more relatable on the surface.)
I think regardless of the location, high school is high school. Every high school has cliques, they’re inescapable. The reason the film hit home to so many people is because you can picture someone you know in at least one of the characters. You might not all have a Cher, but you’ll still have the popular, bubbly blonde.

Clueless was a springboard for many of the young actors. Is there any actor/actress you can imagine having a different career trajectory if he/she was not in the movie?
Without Clueless, I don’t think Paul Rudd would’ve been taken as seriously in the world of romantic comedies.


And, above all else: why do you think Clueless is such a cult favorite 20 years later?
I think that both the concept and the humor are timeless in its specificity. They really nailed how teens talked and it created a whole new lexicon that still fits in today. It’s very conscious about what it was and what it was trying to do. It’s never trying to reach the lowest common denominator. It’s just a smart and fun movie that hits a bullseye in the writing, the acting, the editing. It’s too alive a movie to be seen as just a relic or a “time capsule” to a past decade.

Well said, David. Well said.
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