Funded by Kickstarter and released in 2014 this documentary by Charlie Lyne Beyond Clueless looks at the struggles and heartache of high school life through clips of over 200 teen movies.
Lyne obviously has a passion for teen movies and has some interesting theories and opinions on his favourite films. Split into chapters and an epilogue the film explores themes such as individuality, conformity, sexuality and pact mentality. It is also narrated by Fairuza Balk (The Craft, Return to Oz) to add to the 90s sentiment. It did make me nostalgic to watch teen movies from yesteryear, and remind me how many good (and also awful) teen movies there actually are.
Some of the movies shown are classics of the genre, such as The Craft (naturally included given its narrator) and Mean Girls. However there are some odd choices such as Bubble Boy and Slap Her She’s French (great title aside a so-so movie). A lot of the movies included seem to be just films featuring teenagers rather than straight forward teen movies. It’s a shame that the film focuses mostly on the 90’s and 00’s and doesn’t go into any films from the 80’s. Surely The Breakfast Club deserved some decent screen time? Also for a film called Beyond Clueless, I don’t remember seeing much of Clueless during the film. A travesty indeed!
At times it seems less of a documentary rather than one person’s opinions. Blak’s narration is all we hear and there are no further comments or analysis by anyone else. Some further insights from any of the featured movies directors, writer or actors would have been welcomed. The movie also stalls whenever the narration is paused for clips of teenagers doing the same things in different movies (dancing at the prom, kissing in swimming pools). This is done repeatedly through the movie and gets quite boring.
While not an essential addition to any YA film fan’s collection, Beyond Clueless is diverting and entertaining enough. Even if sometimes you wish you were watching some of the movies featured rather than the documentary itself.