By: Addison Wylie
If you grew up watching teen movies or were exposed to the batch of PG-13 high school flicks that flooded cinemas from the 90’s to the early 2000’s, it’s natural to have a repellant reaction to Charlie Lyne’s doc Beyond Clueless.
The documentarian intentionally takes your beloved guilty pleasures and dissects them to find running themes. An introduction using 1996’s The Craft tells us exactly what movie goers are in for, and the presentation is careful. Though it’s clear that Beyond Clueless is going to be specific and respectful, I felt like Lyne’s research was going to be a buzzkill rather than brilliant.
Through Beyond Clueless, I soon warmed up to Lyne’s writing. His perfectionist strategies are smart and to the point. He uses nostalgia to gain initial acceptance to his crowd, and then offers another perspective about seemingly shallow flicks.
The documentarian (who also edited this beast) uses plenty of examples from all over to further back up threads of budding sexuality, high school politics, and teenage conformity. As a movie lover, I found his insistence to use more obscure titles fascinating. Clips from Cruel Intentions are used, but he’d much rather use Slap Her, She’s French, and Bubble Boy as featured focal points. It’s daring, but ultimately wise for this project. Fairuza Balk narrates Beyond Clueless, and her smokey voice makes the dialogue flow smoothly, as each transition weaves without a problem. Though, it’s arguable some montages play long past their prime.
The film has a vibe and assembly similar to last year’s Room 237, a film that pitched all sorts of fan theories behind Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. That film was ambitious and entertaining, but commonly harebrained to a point of distraction. Beyond Clueless has the same passion behind its proposals, but we can buy a lot of it. Even the wild accusations of closeted homosexuality towards films like Eurotrip and Jeepers Creepers sound so crazy, they might just be true.
So, there you go, kids. Today’s lesson: while it may be a natural feeling, don’t be so quick to judge a movie just because it’s different. It may end up being one of the year’s most memorable documentaries.