9 Reasons Why Remaking Clueless Is a Terrible Idea
Last night, news broke that a Clueless remake is happening. Girls Trip writer Tracy Oliver is set to produce, while GLOW writer Marquita Robinson has signed on to write the screenplay. I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation, but this news has me totally buggin’ (and not in a good way).
Don’t get me wrong, I love Clueless — LOVE. I’ve written college research papers about Clueless, seen the film a minimum of 25 times, and have annoyed all my friends by quoting it ad nauseam at egregiously inappropriate moments.
That being said, I think that remaking the classic is a serious mistake — big, HUGE.
Hear me out … I have concrete reasons (9 of them):
1) How do you remake a comedy?
A successful comedy thrives because of its originality and dialogue. But how do you capture the essence of a comedic hit without using the same jokes or literally setting up the same exact scenarios? The end result is more than likely watching a remake that is essentially the same as the original, but less, uh … original (à la the clusterfuckk that was ABC's Dirty Dancing). Honestly, what’s the point??
2) Hi, it's 2018.
Clueless is as much a critique and parody of its era as it is of its characters. 1995 is a character in the film — a big one. Without the relevant backdrop of the time period, the remake would feel displaced, like an ill-timed cash grab (which, let’s be honest, it probably is). If the remake takes a different route and sets the film in 2018, what would connect it to the original? A movie about a spoiled rich girl in Beverly Hills who falls in love with her stepbrother would not play well in 2018. And any attempt to parody our current era would feel insensitive considering the state of, well, everything.
3) Remakes don’t work unless they’re *loosely* based on the original.
A truly successful remake must distance itself from the original enough to be considered its own entity. The 2018 version of A Star Is Born maintained this space by keeping only the overarching plot elements intact. Aside from the most intrinsic basics, the film had the freedom of fleshing out its own characters, settings, score, and the bulk of its scenes from top to bottom. But if we do the same for Clueless, what do we have left? As I mentioned above, the tale of a shopping-obsessed teen who falls for her stepbrother isn’t all too compelling once you strip away everything that makes Clueless the cult favorite it is (i.e. the ‘90s-isms, over-the-top “period” fashion, witty repartee).
4) Elton and Cher’s dynamic would need a major overhaul.
Stepbrother dealio aside (which, let’s be fair, was weird even in ’95), there are several plot points that really wouldn’t be cool in 2018. For one, Elton’s sexual harassment of Cher. In the original, Elton gives Cher a ride home from a party and repeatedly tries to kiss her, ignoring her protests. Though she does eventually get out of the car, it’s not long before Cher forgives her friend his indiscretion. A 2018 update would need a #WokeCher who puts Elton squarely in his place.
5) Alicia Silverstone has no equal.
If it weren’t for the strength and believability of its female lead, Clueless very well may have faded into obscurity. Silverstone manages to portray the spoiled and materialistic teen with enough vulnerability that you find yourself not only rooting for her, but truly liking her — a foil to the love-hate (mostly hate) dynamic fostered between the audience and the wealthy characters of popular shows like Gossip Girl and movies like Cruel Intentions. I’m not saying it would be impossible to find an actress who could invigorate Cher 2.0 with this same charisma, but it would be pretty damn hard.
6) There can't be a true reunion.
Speaking to the point above, if the film were to reunite the original cast, it would be missing a lot of key players. Tai, played by the late Brittany Murphy, would be glaringly absent. Second, uh, we have Dionne’s Stacey Dash … who is alive and well, but due to her divisive political opinions, might not be the best choice to star in a Hollywood blockbuster?
7) Clueless is already a remake.
No, I haven’t forgotten, Clueless is based on Jane Austen’s Emma — thus technically already kind of a remake. But, as I mentioned above, the film changed enough (i.e. basically everything) to get away with re-tooling the classic tale. Remake-ception, however, is no fun for anyone — it’s a bad name for a Christopher Nolan parody and an even worse concept.
8) It's already had a million revivals.
If you recall, this isn’t the first time Clueless’s popularity has been exploited for commercial gain (was that way harsh? Sorry). Following the film’s release, Clueless got its own serial spin-off, which managed to stay on the air for three whole seasons despite its inability to capture the spark of the film — which, again, I’ll attribute to its total lack of Silverstone.
The film saw another revival of sorts in 2014 with the music video for Iggy Azalea’s so-called song of the summer, “Fancy.” In it, Charli XCX and Azalea dress as the film’s lead and reenact several of its most iconic scenes.
Just next month, Clueless will conquer yet another medium with the Off-Broadway debut of Clueless, The Musical starring Dove Cameron.
So as far as remakes go, Clueless isn’t exactly in desperate need.
9) IT WAS GREAT THE FIRST TIME.
Most importantly, Clueless is one of the greatest films in modern history. Why must we tamper with perfection?