Picture credit score: Elaine Chung
A whole lot of issues about Clueless hit a bit of totally different 25 years later. Really loads totally different. I keep in mind seeing it in theaters with associates—our mother and father dropped us off at as a result of we have been youngsters however not but sufficiently old to have a license. That scene of Dionne freaking out when by accident driving on the freeway was terrifyingly actual in the way in which it foreshadowed what was looming simply forward of us by way of duty (even whereas remaining hilarious).
Simply the opposite day, after a rewatch of the film for what was perhaps the thousandth time, my pal remarked “I really feel like we didn’t react strongly sufficient again then to the truth that Cher finally ends up courting her step-brother.” And it’s true, I by no means realized—or cared to note—how bizarre the central romance finally ends up being. I really like Clueless, I at all times will. Amy Heckerling took Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse and plopped her into Beverly Hills as Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), and the result’s a ’90s coming of age traditional. It is a film that is nonetheless quoted and meme’d at present. We nonetheless talk about how Paul Rudd (and Jeremy Sisto! Elton has executed effectively for himself!) appears to get even hotter with age. One factor that stands out greater than 25 years later is how Travis Birkenstock is sort of an underrated character. Breckin Meyer took what might have simply been a one word stoner function and made it one thing way more attention-grabbing. Upon deeper reflection all these years later, I believe he would possibly even be a hero of the movie.
As a teen watching Clueless my focus was primarily on Cher and Dionne (and Tai) however particularly how all the things Cher stated and did was gospel. She was a grasp schemer but it surely was for the great of her report card and her fellow college students! Her closet was thoughts bogglingly stuffed with unbelievable outfits that seemed implausible on her! She seemed out for her father’s well being and well-being although his major stage of talking is thru indignant shouting. Cher modifications her thoughts about Travis as a part of her evolution to grow to be a greater particular person, however her judgment of Travis as an individual is short-sighted and off the mark from the get-go.
Whereas Cher makes clear her disdain towards Travis for a majority of the film, should you break down all his scenes, he’s genuinely a pleasant man who’s attempting to higher himself identical to Cher. And he’s additionally ALWAYS good to her (and everybody else he encounters!) even when she doesn’t deserve it. He praises her debate abilities in school, he makes an attempt to speak to her about schoolwork (although it’s partly a ploy to ask Tai to a celebration), and presents her a joint when she’s yelling at him for by accident spilling a drink on her footwear. When he’s anointed because the particular person in school with essentially the most tardies, Cher seems irritated at his enjoyment of “accepting” the dignity, solidifying her judgment of Travis as a pothead goof-off by no means to be taken severely. However should you take heed to the phrases of his speech, it doesn’t inform the story of the loadie slacker Cher and Dionne would have you ever imagine he’s. It depicts a happy-go-lucky teen who doesn’t have as a lot cash as the remainder of his Beverly Hills friends, and has to bum rides or take the town bus to get to highschool which tends to lead to his tardiness. Okay sure, typically he stops for Egg McMuffins however whom amongst us wouldn’t be late as soon as in awhile for the prospect to seize a kind of on the way in which to highschool.
I gained’t say that Travis is essentially the most mature character within the movie (hocking a loogey and catching it in his mouth disqualifies him) however he possesses some robust traits that I’d have cherished for the fellows in my highschool to have within the ’90s. He’s form to the brand new woman with out provocation and overtly compliments Tai’s inventive abilities as an alternative of taking part in it cool or aloof—heat habits that develops additional on the celebration he invitations her to within the Valley. I may also die on the hill that he tried to convey ice to assist Tai after she practically bought impaled by a flying shoe. Cher is the one who truly put the ice and towel collectively and but by some means Elton receives the credit score for the gesture which is infuriating to me. This additionally proves how straightforward it’s to miss the one who genuinely cares about your well-being whilst you’re busy vying for the eye of the cool man who doesn’t even know your final identify. An argument might be made that Travis is essentially the most accountable of all of the characters, contemplating he casually completes a 12-Step program whereas nonetheless in highschool, invoking the ninth step when he apologizes to Cher months after ruining her footwear on the celebration. Throughout a time when many teenagers are normally experimenting and pushing limits of extra, he up and decides to go in the wrong way. Additionally a person apologizing? With sincerity? Who knew it was doable! When Travis competes on the skateboarding competitors and is grinning ecstatically at Cher and Tai after he does effectively, Cher not solely realizes how motivated Travis is, she accepts that her preliminary judgment of him as an individual was completely improper. And in that second she additionally makes amends for previous errors.
So many iconic teen motion pictures over time anticipated you to root for the favored guys who upon nearer examination truly exhibited actually distasteful habits. Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) permits Laney (Rachel Leigh Cook dinner) to be humiliated at a celebration in She’s All That with out stepping in to defend her. That is just like Blane’s (Andrew McCarthy) actions in Fairly in Pink and Henry (Dougray Scott) in Ever After. It’s virtually like there’s an entire style of dudes permitting the women they supposedly care about be handled like rubbish at public occasions. And sure, Travis is just not the primary character of the film, however he’s additionally not simply the throwaway stoner with a handful of humorous traces that I took him for the primary time I watched Clueless. Tai was instantly drawn to Travis as a result of he was good to her after which dissuaded of her personal emotions by Cher and Dionne believing they have been looking for Tai’s finest curiosity. Rewatching this now I can’t imagine that I didn’t understand again then how widespread it was in highschool to timidly admit you have been crushing on somebody simply to have somebody in your trusted circle scoff and say nah you are able to do higher. And should you actually give it some thought, it’s truly Elton who matches Cher’s description of somebody who involves class and infrequently says bonehead issues, not Travis.
I can usually look again at romcoms I cherished from years in the past and understand that the “good” character was truly creepy or problematic (hiya Can’t Hardly Wait, Love Really, American Pie). However Travis Birkenstock’s niceness will eternally abide.
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