Director Picks: Top 5 Movies by Amy Heckerling

Written by Megan Alexander December 01, 2012


Amy HeckerlingIt is a well-known fact that in Hollywood famous female filmmakers are few and far between, and for them to standout they really have to bring something special to the table. Well what Ms. Amy Heckerling brings to the table is a talent for writing and directing  smart and hilarious films. Heckerling has proven to be a versatile comedic filmmaker by directing and and writing movies for different sub-genres of comedy such as: Slap Stick comedies, Romantic comedies, and most notably Teen comedies. Lets take a look at some of the films that made this fantastic female filmmaker famous.

5) “Loser”


In 2000, Amy Heckerling, who at this time established a name for herself in the teen comedy genre, graduated from High School to University in the movie “Loser”. The story is about sweet and innocent Paul,  who moves from a small town to New York for school. His sweet small town demeanor, persistent optimum, and questionable fashion choices are ridiculed by his jaded, privileged and self-centered dorm and classmates and he is ultimately labeled a Loser. The film is well written, it is funny, and it has some great and honest insights on how hard it is for teenagers to adjust to university.

4) “National Lampoons European Vacation”  


In 1985, Heckerling directed one of America’s favorite families, the Griswold’s, in another dysfunctional family vacation. This time around the Griswold’s win a trip around Europe and unfortunately for them, but fortunate for us, their bad luck seems to travel with them across continents. Heckerling holds her own as a brilliant comedic director as she was able to deliver a National Lampoons film with all the all the standards (sight gags, slapstick, memorable one-liners, and satirical humor) that one expects when vacationing with the Griswold’s.

3) “Look Who’s Talking” 


Before Stewie from Family Guy, or Tommy from Rugrats, their was little Mikey from “Look Who’s Talking”, who gave audiences a perspective into the inner thoughts of babies. Heckerling’s talents as a comedic writer shines bright in this story about Mollie (Kristie Ally), a single mom trying to find a suitable father for her new son Mickey (voiced by Bruce Willis). Although Mickey’s inner monologue has the mannerisms of a fully grown smart-alecky New Yorker, his thoughts are still those of a baby trying to figure out the world around him. This movie is also a standard in romantic comedies as it explores the relationship that Mollie encounters with cabdriver turned babysitter James (John Travolta). The natural  chemistry between Travolta and Alley is palpable, and together they create a very funny, sweet, and memorable movie couple.

2) “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” 


 The 1980’s gave us some of the most memorable teen flicks, but before John Hughes and the Rat Pack, there was Amy Heckerling at the students of Ridgemont High. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” chronicles the lives of several high school students during an entire academic year. Not only is the movie funny in its representation of high school, it is sincere in portraying serious teen issues like abortion, a topic rarely touched in teen movies even today. The film not only jump-started a film career for Heckerling, but for  some famous actors as well: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Forest Whitaker, and Nicolas Cage (who can be seen on screen for about two seconds). However, the biggest star to graduate from Ridgemont High has to be Sean Penn. Penn plays Jeff Spicoli, your classic stoner, surfer, slacker, California dude. This is a far cry from the more serious roles that Penn has become known for, proof that he can play anything.  “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” is not only a defining film in Heckerling’s career, it is defining film for its genre.

1) “Clueless” 


More then 10 years after Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Heckerling brought her talents back to school by writing and directing “Clueless”, a film which showcases an entirely different California High School Experience, the 90’s Beverly Hills High School Experience. “Clueless” centers on Queen Teen Cher Horowitz (played brilliantly by Alicia Silverstone), who believes because she is rich, popular, and pretty she has it all together, only to realize that when it comes to love, priorities, and apparently sexual orientations she does not have a clue. The movie serves as a sharp and satirical look into the world of the rich and privileged American teen; teenagers who have become blinded by trends, cars, fashion, money, and popularity that they have become completely clueless to the world outside the 90210 zip code.  With its bright sets, colorful fashions, memorable lines, quick wit, and a superb cast, “Clueless” is certainly one of Heckerling’s best, and if you don’t agree then “What-Ever”.

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