Illustration for article titled The Art of the Double Feature: emClueless/em And emFrances Ha/em

Double features should be like pairing a wine with dinner: executed thoughtfully. If treated as a free-for-all — where everyone blindly contributes — you run the risk of coupling a seafood platter with a box of merlot (ugh), or in the case of movies, Schindler's List with The Hangover. (And not even the original Hangover. I'm talking Part III.)


In the interest of double features everywhere, today I'm serving up a hearty but decadent duo – the newly released (for streaming) Noah Baumbach dramedy Frances Ha, alongside the iconic '90s comedy Clueless. Both are simple enough in flavor on their own, but they possess complementary notes that satisfy nearly everyone's viewing palate.

First, let's start in 1995 – a very good year for grapes, but a better year for Alicia Silverstone. Unless you were born recently (or have been living in the same lab to which Paul Rudd returns every night to store his unchanging youth), you've already seen Clueless. Multiple times, probably. In fact, it may be one of those sacred films where you hear the lines a beat before the actors say them, and then resist the urge to demonstrate your psychic abilities out loud to your friends. If you don't resist, they will hate it, and they will hate you.


But Clueless is one of those rare instances where its outmoded, '90s-specific qualities not only refuse to hinder the film's charm – they actually increase it. Space pilgrims in the future will watch this movie as a hologram and they will think that Clueless illustrates an actual moment in time where everyone wore hats like Dionne and Alicia Silverstone was our national queen. And that would be an okay assessment. In fact, that would be a great assessment.

Just as Clueless launched Brittany Murphy's career, her untimely death in 2009 caused a posthumous crowning, immortalizing the character of Tai Frasier in our flannel-swathed hearts. (Not even sporadically!) And perhaps that's an element of the origin story of Greta Gerwig's Frances Ha, the eponymous title character in part two of our double feature. Although Gerwig doesn't have Murphy's charisma, there are flashes of the late actress in Gerwig's execution of a post-grad aspiring dancer, struggling to pay rent as she stumbles through New York City in a daze — so much so that at times it's not hard to imagine Frances Ha as a continuation of Tai's story, or at the very least, a not-so-distant relative.


"I'm so embarrassed. I'm not a real person yet," Frances earnestly admits when forced to concede that she can't pay a restaurant bill with a credit card — because she doesn't have one.

While the bulk of the film centers on Frances in a state of limbo with friends, jobs, apartments, and general comprehension, her cringe-inducing, childlike awkwardness never wavers. When an acquaintance characterizes about Frances, "You seem older... Like, a lot older. But less, like, grown up. It's weird," I can almost hear Tai exclaim, "Wow, you guys talk like grown-ups!"


Unlike many high school comedies from the 90s, Clueless has aged with a strong acidity, and when blended with the fresh and aromatic Frances Ha, it creates a balanced, fruity bouquet that would impress even Dionne (she of the discriminating palate).

Get to watching! And tell us your favorite double feature combinations in the comments!

Share This Story

Get our newsletter