Everyone has their personal favorite film genre. Bums Logic’s own Jaded Bitterman will be the first to tell you about his love of all things horror. If it involves some young teens finding themselves in a secluded area with nothing to do but drink and fuck whilst unbeknownst to them a homicidal maniac lurks in the shadows waiting to disembowel them, the you can be rest assured JB loves it.
I, on the other hand, prefer a different genre that involves teens and that is a category I refer to simply as the Teen Comedy. There is something about the genre that just gets my insides all wrapped up and excited. I guess it is the 14-year-old girl who lives inside of me that can’t get enough of the angst and hi-jinks of life in simpler times when all I had to worry about was how are we going to get alcohol and where can we drink it without getting caught. At the very least we threw caution to the wind in regard to the impending bludgeoning at the hands of the aforementioned homicidal maniac lurking in the bushes the moment we decided to reach up her shirt and touch a boob. Thought bubble, “Now that I am up her shirt do I try to unhook her bra or just try to slide my hand under the cup but over the wire?” Ah, good times.
Those days of adolescent escapades are long gone for me. However, there is no need to long for those days of yore as now I have an entire Hollywood machine ready to keep me up to date on what makes teens these days tick. While it is true that music styles and fashion trends have changed since I was feeling up Becky Forgethername in the soda machine room my tenth grade year, one thing still remains true when it comes to modern high school kids, they still like to have the sex. Man, I love America.
Fans of Bums Logic know that there is a special place in our collective heart for Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Who doesn’t randomly blurt out to their friends, “Bo Derek’s tits!” It is the film that gave birth to the ‘Teen Comedy’ genre and set itself to be the standard. The only bad thing that can be said about Fast Times is that it was so amazingly amazing that no one dared to even touch the genre for many years that followed. It relegated its fans to nothing more than weak ABC television after school specials that served as cautionary tales for adolescents and the dangers of risky behavior. Stories of cheer leaders becoming pregnant by just thinking about a penis of little or little Johnny Jockwad who became labeled as an alcoholic after he went to a party and saw some older kids drinking beer, these stories sucked because they were nothing more than scare tactics to frighten young teens away from partying it up or having sex after midnight. In other words, their stories lacked any real fun.
It wasn’t until 1995, some thirteen years after Fast Times, that a glimmer of hope shined through the darkness and brought us Clueless. The basic story revolves around a young girl and her friends. Skipping a full-blown synopsis, the movie revitalized the ‘Teen Comedy’ genre and set itself up as the new standard by which all that followed would be judged. Is it as good as Fast Times? No. But comparing the two movies on face is a wasted exercise and, simply stated, that is not the point of this article. The important point to recognize is that the ‘Teen Comedy’ is alive and well thanks to its 1995 rebirth.
One difference between the two films is that where there was a dearth of substantive examples of the genre following Fast Times, Hollywood was quick to recognize the value of producing ‘Teen Comedy’ films after the release of Clueless. Since its release, Hollywood execs have produced a stream of films trying to match the new standard it set. Sadly, just as was the case of its predecessor, few have come close to the quality of Clueless, but not for lack of trying.
Given Hollywood’s effort in the matter, I have taken it upon myself to create a grading scale for the entire genre. As it stands, FT notwithstanding, Clueless sets itself up to be the gold standard and it scores with the highest grade available with an A+. For those of you doubting my system let me say that the shit is full proof. The grades I award to films in the genre are lock solid. If I say a movie is an ‘A’ it is good. If I give a movie an ‘F’ you can bet it sucks. John Tucker Must Die, I am looking in your direction.
Editor’s side notes – Fast Times and Clueless were directed by Amy Heckerling, maybe that is why they are both quality features. Amy if you are reading this, I love you and I am willing to do anything… Also, FT was written by Cameron Crowe. Crowe always seems to write movies that tell the stories of people just a few years older than me which is like getting a sneak peek at what life may hold for me a few years down the road, but more on that later.