As If!, by Jen Chaney

As If!Clueless is one of those movies that I watched a million times as a teenager and probably owned in multiple formats and it’s entirely possible (read: entirely true) that I owned the PC game and gave myself virtual makeovers on the regular. I hadn’t watched the movie in ages before picking up this book and then having to watch it again immediately, but the outfits and the quotes and the general snarky feel of the movie are definitely imprinted on my person.

So when I saw that this book existed, of course I read it! It’s an oral history of the making of the movie, from when it was but a wee idea in the mind of Amy Heckerling to when it came out and was a huge surprise hit to now, when current teenagers apparently still watch and love this movie as much as I did even though it is twenty years old and how does that even happen I am so old.

Ahem. Anyway. This was actually my first non-fictional oral history (unless someone’s not telling me something about the zombie apocalypse…), so it was interesting to see how the actual style works. It was jarring at first to see how the narrative was stitched together, basically a bunch of quotes from various interviews across time and space all shoved in together with very little connective narration. Some bits of the book are just lots of people saying basically the same thing six different ways, and some bits purport to be about one particular thing (fashion, technology, a specific scene) but it’s hard to tell how the quotes actually relate to said thing.

But, regardless, there’s a lot of great information about a movie I hold dear, which is always great. There are bits about casting and who might have played who if things had worked out differently, and bits about how hard it was to find the movie a home where it could thrive, and whole chapters on the awesome fashion and trendsetting of the movie. I was maybe hoping for some crazy revelations (like Cary Elwes’s medical troubles in The Princess Bride), but probably the wildest thing you find out in this book is that Alicia Silverstone as a teenager did not in fact know how to pronounce Haitians.

Even without wild reveals, though, this is a super fun book for anyone who has ever watched Clueless, and if you haven’t, you really should. (And if you haven’t watched this movie since you were a teenager, do it now. You, like I, may have had a few jokes fly straight past your nose.)

Recommendation: For fans of Clueless and people who like oral histories of things.

Rating: 7/10

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