10 'Clueless' Jokes That Went Right Over Our Heads as Kids


Clueless is a classic teen comedy responsible for many a catchphrase ("As if!") and fashion trend (So. Much. Plaid). Like any great movie, Cher's high school adventures with her fat (I mean that in the cool, 90s-slang way) clique of friends only seem to get better with time. It's part chick flick, part exercise in pop culture metatextuality, and part coming-of-age tale (to the extent that you can come of age in Beverly Hills, a town that refuses to age). We continue to enjoy Clueless because it's a good movie — fun, silly, self-aware, and heartfelt, even if that heart is draped in expensive jewels and designer clothes. But certainly part of our love of Clueless must come from the fact that we're constantly rediscovering it: so many of the film's jokes and references soared straight over our little heads the first, fifth, and tenth time we watched it. After all, most of us were still in elementary school in 1995 when the film was released. I did some heavy-duty research, and found 10 Clueless jokes that we probably missed. After reading this, you'll be, "like, totally buggin."

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1. "Dionne and her boyfriend Murray are in this dramatic relationship. I think they’ve seen that Ike and Tina Turner movie just too many times."

This one didn’t register on our collective radars for a couple reasons. First, we were simply too young to know much about Ike and Tina’s notoriously abusive relationship — it’d be like us expecting our kids to get a Chris Brown and Rihanna reference 20 years from now. (We can only hope that Chris Brown has been utterly forgotten by then, but I guess he won’t be if I keep bringing him up. I’ll stop now.)

Secondly, Cher’s comment actually made no sense in the context of the movie, since Dionne and Murray’s relationship was never shown to be violent or unhealthy. Murray's most unforgivable behavior includes shaving his head, calling Dionne "woman," and not giving her more crap for wearing those ridiculous hats.

Images courtesy Tulsa 20 Something, Babble.

2. "Here’s the 411 on Mr. Hall: he’s single, he’s 47, and he earns minor ducats at a thankless job. What that man needs is a good healthy boinkfest."

I thought Cher said "breakfast." So in the movie in my mind (working title is Mr. Hall & Oats), all Mr. Hall needed was a bowl of oatmeal, a glass of OJ, an egg, and maybe some fruit. To me, the romance with Miss Geist seemed like an odd detour on the road to breakfast. And the man never did get his breakfast. Inconceivable!

Even if I’d correctly heard “boinkfest,” my head probably would’ve just gone to this:

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

3. "I was surfing the crimson wave. I had to haul ass to the ladies'."

I thought Cher was late for class because she was surfing. You know, like riding on a wave. In the ocean. In Malibu? In the Red Sea? I don’t know, I obviously didn’t really think about it. But surfing before school would explain why Cher was late for first period (no pun intended).

Even though I didn’t understand why, I could tell that referring to a "crimson wave" was a foolproof, no-further-questions-ma'am justification for tardiness. Without knowing what it meant, I definitely said it to more than one teacher in elementary school, a choice that resulted in a variety of responses ranging from sympathy, to surprise, to “isn’t that from a movie?” and "aren't you, like, 8?" By high school, the excuse finally started to make sense, both to me and my teachers. And it still works today — indeed, like all classics, it’s timeless.

4. "Well, there goes your social life."

Oh burnnn, Dionne. I doubt most of us got this subtle dig. If you were like me, you incorrectly assumed that before her plastic surgeon stepped in, athletic Amber’s weekends were jam-packed playing all kinds of sports that involved balls flying at her (first) nose. And coming up with clever hand gestures like the gem below.

5. "Man, I’m freaking. I could really use some sort of herbal refreshment!"

What made Tai think that Cher and Dionne could score her some weed is beyond me. Then again, Tai is a 16-year-old who doesn’t know what seven times seven equals. Regardless, I thought Tai’s herbal refreshment was a reference to Arizona iced tea. Maybe iced green tea.

6. "Everywhere in L.A. takes 20 minutes."

Actually this joke, from Cher's dad, still goes over my head ... maybe because my head is usually slumped in my hands as I tearfully crawl through Los Angeles traffic and shout to no one, "IT'S GONNA TAKE AN HOUR TO GO FIVE MILES?!" (not a safe way to drive). Listen, it takes 20 minutes to get everywhere in Los Angeles if you select the "Hide Traffic" function on Google Maps.

7. "The P.C. term is hymenally challenged."

When you finally learned what a "hymen" was in seventh grade health class, this line from Dionne took on a whole new meaning.

8. "Your man Christian is a cakeboy. He’s a disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand-ticket-holding friend of Dorothy, you know what I'm saying?"

No, Murray, I didn't know what you were saying. I'm sorry, did you just out the dude that looks like Jason Priestley?! When I first heard Murray’s little rant, I stopped listening at the word "cake." This was my resulting thought process: “A cakeboy. Hmm ... a boy ... who likes cake. I like cake too. I wonder if we have any cake in the house. I need to pause the movie. Mommm!”

It took me awhile to understand why Cher stopped pursuing Christian and started making out with her ex-stepbrother (although to be fair, Paul Rudd is a total Baldwin).

Image courtesy Daily Fill.

9. "Do you like Billie Holiday?" "I love him."

These little moments are so great. Just to really drive home the point that Cher (and by association, us, for not getting this joke) was clueless, we now know that this particular Billie was a female. Oh, but despite this faux pas, Christian still loved her in that — spoiler alert! — gay best friend way.

10. "You're a virgin who can't drive."

If you ever need to insult a 15-year-old, this is the one. I'm sure I'll end up yelling it at my future daughter when she breaks curfew or talks back. Even back in 1995, we all knew it was a dark thing for Tai to say, but it necessitates inclusion on this list because you only appreciate its meanness with time. Once we had sex and learned how to drive (and hopefully we're relatively skilled and safe at both), we realized just how "way harsh" this truly was.