Seeing Beyond Clueless will leave you with a mental list of teen movies to re-watch. A mash-up of more than 250 films from the late ’90s and early 2000s, this crowdfunded doc is a giddy celebration of the genre directed by first-timer Charlie Lyne.
Taking the form of a video essay, the film is at its best stitching together clichéd clips from different movies—montages of house parties and masturbation sequences playing out over an angsty soundtrack by indie band Summer Camp. The rush of spotting a favorite scene or former crush (Freddie Prinze Jr for ever!) in the mix is genuinely thrilling. Narrated by Fairuza Balk—star of teen witchcraft thriller The Craft (1996)—the film has an overarching narrative about the clash between individuality and the cult of high school.
But while Balk is great at deadpanning a funny script laced with irony, the critique sometimes misses the mark. A discussion of the homoerotic subtext of Jeepers Creepers is interesting but not explored in enough depth. And in places it feels like you’re just getting walked through movie plots. Ultimately, Beyond Clueless is like a ’90s R&B night or even a cereal café: it hits you with a wave of nostalgia but isn’t all that challenging.