I have written movie reviews for a local paper since I was a sophomore in high school. When I started out, I was young and still developing my voice, so it was important to me to have role models. I took it very seriously. I checked out or bought many books of film reviews, but Roger Ebert was a specific voice I looked up to. I say this with all due respect, and not at all as a joke: Ebert became someone I trusted when he gave Clueless a thumbs-up.
This evening, I pulled up his review of Clueless, in which he praises the ironic wit and Amy Heckerling’s anthology-worthy dialogue:
Cher (Alicia Silverstone), who lives in a mansion and looks like Cybill Shepherd, is capable of lines like, “Why learn to park when every place you go has a valet?” But she puts a little satirical spin on them. She is one of the most totally self-absorbed characters in a movie since the heroes of “Wayne’s World,” and yet she isn’t a victim, and we get the idea she will grow up tough and clever, like her dad (Dan Hedaya).
When I think about it, I have this weird telescoping of my past aligning with my present self. I connected with Ebert as a girl who was trying to find a voice in an adult context, as he praised a girl trying to find a voice in an adult context. Further, I am presently pleased by the way his review addresses the sharp portrayal of girl culture in the film. All this, however, is to say that Ebert’s voice is one that I have admired for a long time and I will miss his reviews. (See also, HuffPo: Remembering the Wit and Wisdom of a Legend.)
Thumbs up, Mr. Ebert. Rest in peace.
Also, there’s this: