If you’re lucky enough to live in London, then on 8 June you can head down to the Prince Charles Cinema dressed in your best 90’s grunge outfit, and relive Empire Records on the big screen and in all it’s grunge-teens-day-in-the-life-of awesomeness. Knowing this is happening has put me on a complete Empire Records kick this week, and now all I want to do is wear a plaid mini-skirt and dance to This is The Day by The The on a roof, after dark. In Doctor Martens. And work in a record store of course. It’s made me think of all the other films from the nineties (when I was a teen and could feasibly have been LIVING a teen film if life was actually like a teen film. Which sadly and as we all know: it was not.) that I wish were like my life. Or more accurately: films I wanted to emulate and did, a lot, in my head. For virtually that entire decade.
Clueless. Because who DIDN’T want to be Cher? And have a giant walk in closet, and take Polaroids of your outfits in the morning, and have Paul Rudd as a boyfriend? Clueless was lavish and ridiculous and to an 11 year old who wasn’t even old enough to legally see it in the cinema when it came out: the coolest thing ever. It also featured Brittany Murphy in her puppy fat, bad hair days, before she got all blonde and angular and cool (and eventually dead) – which, in hindsight, gives me hope that one day I will grow out of my awkward, gawky teen phase and into, well, Alicia Silverstone. Because in my head, I am the idiot in the corner at the party, who is wearing dungarees and just fell down the stairs in front of everyone.
The Craft (1996)
The Craft was my ultimate sleepover movie. And okay, so perhaps it wouldn’t be altogether sensible to have my life be like this movie, because it was weird and scary and Fairuza Balk in black lipstick, commanding the oceans to kill all the whales still freaks me out. So I don’t really want her to turn up as my new best friend. But come on – there was a point in the film, just after all Neve Campbell’s scars fell off and just before they started making people’s hair fall out and snakes well up out of the toilet bowl, where those teen witches were really bloody cool. Think back to the scene where they walked through the school yard in their school uniform and crucifix necklaces, in slow motion, boobs and hair bouncing as they went. They made me want to turn my hair blonde at the flick of my wrist too.
Cruel Intentions (1999)
Speaking of large crucifix necklaces – Cruel Intentions was another film in which shiny hair and tiny plaid skirts played a big part, and another film I wanted to be PART OF. As Reese Witherspoon of course, who was blonde and innocent and moral and lovely, and who could turn Ryan Phillippe from a bad boy into someone we could all fall in love with, and make off with his amazing car at the end, wind whipping through her hair, looking far cooler than Sarah Michelle Geller turned out to be (admit it, you secretly wanted to be her a bit, except for the coke habit and perpetually moody face). Right from the opening credits, with Every You Every Me by Placebo playing and scenes of New York City making us all wish we didn’t, in reality, live in Coventry, it was a last minute 90’s contender for film that should have been like our lives, and totally wasn’t in any way, shape or form.
American Pie (1999)
Now actually, I preferred American Pie II, but it came out in 2001 and therefore is not eligible for this list. American Pie was the sort of coming-of-age film that made every teenager that saw it realize that any embarrassing thing they would do during that decade would never be as humiliating as being caught making love to a pie. Unless you did that. In which case….what kind of pie? Also, I wanted to be part of that gang. And Mena Suvari made being in the school choir look cool. Which, as I remember, it actually wasn’t.
Coyote Ugly (2000)
I’m now totally cheating, because Coyote Ugly was not released in the 90’s at all. But screw it, this is my list. And as a young, impressionable teen, I really couldn’t (and still can’t) think of anything cooler than moving to the big city, working at a nightclub where it is acceptable to spray the crowd with water whilst yelling ‘Hell No H2O!’ and dancing on the bar in cowboy boots and short skirts, and then suddenly and overnight becoming a successful songwriter after a short montage in which you play your keyboard on the roof and then a cute guy helps you realize your dream. Imagine my disappointment when my first forays into adulthood and independence involved no such thing. I couldn’t even get my keyboard on the roof, it was too damn heavy. The closest I ever came was playing Chopsticks on a piano that was situated on the second floor. Thirteen years later, I’m still trying (and failing) to be Piper Perabo and working up the courage to don a pair of leather trousers.
Empire Records (1995)
There are more (I never even got started on Never Been Kissed and 10 Things I Hate About You) but it always comes back to Empire Records in the end. Because no matter what I achieve or what else happens to me in my life – in my head I am Liv Tyler wearing the red bra and short plaid skirt, being quiety and sweetly adorable, wandering between the shelves of the achingly awesome independent record store I work at while the cutest guy in the whole place is secretly in love with me. And at night I bake cupcakes. And as previously mentioned, dance on the roof to The The. If you’ve never seen the film, watch it immediately.
Join our tribe
We promise to pop a whole host of good stuff into your inbox every Wednesday to brighten up your week. Can't say fairer than that now can we?