Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Listeria: Top Ten Jokes I Completely Missed the First Twenty Times I Saw Clueless

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on January 20, 2007

Life is more interesting in List form.

Clueless–good movie. I was probably about ten when I first saw it, and I’d estimate that I saw it at least six or seven times again before I got Bar Mitzvahed. It was sort of incongruous with the other movies I liked at the time–like any self-respecting ten-twelve year old, I was all about pushing the explicit content envelope with my movie watching (more violence and language than sex in those days, though that would soon change), and even though it depicted people much older and more mature than I was, I think even at the time I thought Clueless was kind of tame (though for some reason I was also a huge fan of the Will Friedle-Jennifer Love Hewitt comedy Trojan War, so at least it wasn’t totally anomolous). Still, I thought it was hysterical–and so did just about everyone else I knew, since we were still at an age at that point that we didn’t realize we weren’t supposed to be so vocal about our love for chick-focused teen movies (I swear, there was a six month period between sixth and seventh grade that pretty much all the guys in my school went from loving Titanic to having “always hated it”–inevitable, I suppose).

Anyway, I still see Clueless on TV from time to time, and I’m shocked at how good it remains. It’s really the perfect combination of the two best teen comedies of the 80s, Heathers and Valley Girl, mixing the subversiveness and wit of the former with the sweetness and cultural definition of the latter. And each time I see it, I get one or two jokes that I never got before–stuff that I didn’t even realize was a joke the first twentyy times I saw it, stuff that I still didn’t get until my brother explained it to me a few months ago. Sexuality, drugs, alcoholism, art culture, all sorts of stuff that went over my pre-teen head, stuff which I’m sure made the movie bearable for the parents who had to endure their teenage kids’ constant watching and quoting of the movie (I’m sure at least 60% of white suburban females who were between the ages of 10 and 16 in 1995 can quote this movie verbatim). And that’s not even mentioning all the Emma parallels, which I knew existed but didn’t quite get until we had to read it for my Lit class last semester (I didn’t end up reading it, but the Wikipedia page was enlightening).

So yeah, Top Ten:

10. Cher calling Ren & Stimpy “way existential.” Not even sure if I agree, but what a discussion concept for a teen movie.

9. Josh: [while watching news about a war in Bosnia] You look confused.

Cher: Well, I thought they declared peace in the Middle East.

8. Travis telling Cher about his reformed ways:

“See, I joined this program, and there’s all these…steps…there’s like…”


“Yeah, how did you know?”

“Lucky guess.”

7. The not-yet-revealed-to-be-gay Christian reading William S. Burroughs’ Junkie in class

6. Cher telling Tai: “It is one thing to spark up a doobie and get laced at parties, but it is quite another to be fried all day.” I can’t even imagine what I thought this quote was referring to when I first saw the movie. Pretty sure drugs didn’t come into it.

5. Cher saying she is having a “Twin Peaks moment” when in the car with Elton–you don’t see references to Blue Velvet in Mean Girls, now, do you?

4. Travis donating his bong to Cher’s charity drive.

“I guess this goes under kitchenware?”

“Hey, that’s where I used to keep it!”

3. The still-not-yet-revealed-to-be-gay Christian renting Tony Curtis movies (and focusing on the Laurence Olivier seduction scene in Spartacus)

2. Cher complaining about college guys listening to “complaint rock” while Josh plays the accoustic version of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” in the next room. I never would’ve realized that this was a joke the first time I saw this, now it’s one of the funniest parts of the movie.

1. Tai telling Cher and Dionne that she could use some “herbal refreshments”

“Oh, well, we do lunch in ten minutes. We don’t have any tea, but we have Coke and stuff”

“NO SHIT, you guys got COKE here??”

I always wondered why Tai was so enthused at the prospect of a coke machine.


2 Responses to “Listeria: Top Ten Jokes I Completely Missed the First Twenty Times I Saw Clueless”

  1. Not the one where the bitchy girl asks to be excused from tennis because she just had a nose job and the doctor said she couldn’t have balls coming at her face and Cher goes “well, there goes your social life”? I only got that one on my third viewing. Genius.

  2. jeffrey said

    as a 21 year old male college student, i want to see this movie again. who knew.
    in a age of forgetting sarah marshall and superbad, this was 90’s prime.

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