Tag Archives: Harriet Smith

Clueless Character Review: Travis Birkenstock

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. When it comes to love, there is sometimes a tug of war as to whom we want to be with vs. who others think we should be with. In Clueless, Travis Birkenstock (Breckin Meyer) doesn’t exactly rank very high on the social ladder. He is an underachieving skater boy who is looked down on by Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) and her friends.

When Travis and new girl Tai Fraser (Brittany Murphy) start crushing on each other, Cher steps in. Like her regency era counterpart, Emma Woodhouse, Cher cannot and will not see her friend/protégé hook up with someone who she perceives to be beneath her. Just as Emma convinces Harriet Smith to turn down Mr. Martin’s proposal in favor of a potential match with Mr. Elton, Cher tries to convince Tai that BMOC Elton Tiscia (Jeremy Sisto) is the better choice.

When Elton reveals his true f*ck boy nature, Cher backs off. Tai and Travis are given the opportunity to be a couple and let fate take its course.

To sum it up: It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Though Travis may not appear to be anyone’s ideal romantic partner, he is eventually revealed to be a good guy who is the right person for Tai.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Jane Austen, Movies

Clueless Character Review: Tai Frasier

I apologize for not posting last week. I moved and writing temporarily went to the back burner.

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. I remember being the new kid in school. It is one of the most awkward experiences of my life up to that point. You want to look like you belong, but the reality is that you stick out like a sore thumb.

In Clueless, Tai Frasier (the late Brittany Murphy) has just transferred high schools. Befriended by Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash), they decide that Tai needs a makeover. Like her literary predecessor, Harriet Smith, Tai is an outsider who looks up her new pals. When she starts to become friendly with socially inappropriate skater boy Travis (Breckin Meyer), she is steered toward big man on campus Elton (Jeremy Sisto).

But Elton is first rate asshole. He is using Tai to get to Cher. After this revelation and nearly being killed, Tai becomes confident and is no longer the student to Cher’s teacher. This leads to a temporary crush on Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd) and eventually back to Travis and teenage happily ever after (at least for the time being).

To sum it up: Switching schools is an opportunity to start over. But if you were to ask the young person, they would likely say that wished that they were back in their old school. Instead of living in the past, Tai accepts her fate and has the social/love life that the high school experience is made of.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Feminism, Movies

Emma Book Review

Those of you who know my Janeite side know that I am not a purist. I am not against taking the novels out of their early 19th century setting and putting them in another era. That does not mean that every modern adaptation is worthy of the original novel.

Famed mystery writer Alexander McCall Smith entered the Jane Austen arena with his modern rewrite of Austen’s 4th novel, Emma.

As she is in the original novel, Emma Woodhouse is “rich, clever and handsome”.  She lives with her widower, hypochondriac father and her governess, Miss Taylor. Miss Taylor is recently engaged to Mr. Weston.  Emma has recently graduated college and is eager to start her interior design business.  But first she has some matchmaking to do.

Her initial success with Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston leads her down a dangerous path. She may or may not have mistakenly guided her new friend Harriet Smith away from Robert Martin, the son of local B&B owners and potentially into a match with Philip Elton, the local vicar. Add in Emma’s longtime neighbor/verbal sparring partner/ brother in law George Knightley and you have what may end up being an interesting summer.

I will forewarn my fellow Janeites that if you are a purist, you will not like this book.  McCall Smith has taken some liberties with his take on Emma. While I am not a purist in any sense of the word and I do enjoy a modern adaptation, I still prefer certain traditional elements of the novel and the character to remain. McCall Smith has taken too many liberties for my liking.

Do I recommend this book? If you don’t mind too many changes to character and story, then yes. But if you prefer the novel in it’s original form, then I recommend that you stay away.

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Emma 1996 Vs Emma 2009 Vs Clueless

Emma begins with the following description:

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

Emma Woodhouse is Austen’s Queen Bee. She is confident in her view of the world and her place in the world. Living with her widowed father (her mother died when she was a baby, her elder sister is married and moved away), Emma is mistress of her father’s house. Unlike some of other the Austen heroines she is not a dependent on the good will of her relations (Mansfield Park), nor is her home entailed away to the nearest male relative after the death of her father (Sense And Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice).

That being said, I will compare three of the filmed Emma adaptations.

Clueless (1995)

Cast: Alicia Silverstone (Cher Horowitz), Dan Hedaya (Mel Horowitz), Josh (Paul Rudd), Tai (Brittany Murphy)

  • Pro’s: Amy Heckerling as both director and screenwriter, perfectly adapted the novel. The transition from rural 19th century Highbury to mid 1990’s Los Angeles is seamless. The movie is totally funny, totally quotable and iconic in it’s own right.
  • Con’s: None.

Emma 1996

Cast:  Kate Beckinsale (Emma), Bernard Hepton (Mr. Woodhouse),  Mark Strong (Mr. Knightley), Samantha Morton (Harriet Smith)

  • Pro’s: It is a well done adaptation. The casting is on target and the screenplay is true to the novel. Beckinsale, as the title character is both infuriating and charming. Strong is sexy and annoying in the all knowing big brother sense.
  • Cons: Mark Strong’s Edwardian Mullet, which really is the only con I can think of.

Emma 2008

Cast: Romola Garai (Emma), Michael Gambon (Mr. Woodhouse), Jonny Lee Miller (Mr. Knightley) Louise Dylan (Harriet Smith)

  • Pro’s: This adaptation is well done and so very funny. Garai and Miller have this bickering brother and sister relationship that is just so endearing. There is almost this Benedict and Beatrice style relationship where they begin to fall in love through the bickering and in fighting.
  • Cons: None.

And the winner is……. all. I can’t choose.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Movies