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Is Alicia Silverstone’s “Vamps” the New “Clueless”?

November 8, 2012

It’s hard to believe, but Clueless has nearly reached legal age. Seventeen years ago, a little-known Aerosmith video vixen named Alicia Silverstone starred in a breathlessly witty teen-themed comedy written and directed by Amy Heckerling, who’d earlier made her mark on the coming-of-age genre with 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Now, in her first film since 2007’s straight-to-DVD I Could Never Be Your Woman (which paired Clueless grads Paul Rudd and Stacey Dash with Michelle Pfeiffer), Heckerling reunites with Silverstone for the paranormal comedy Vamps. And, I’m sorry to say, it sucks.

Semi-studio Anchor Bay dumped Vamps in one theater this past weekend, perhaps hoping to lure Twi-hards who can’t wait a few more weeks for their next bloodsucker fix. It earned a whopping $548, which may be why it’s suddenly available ahead of schedule on VOD services like Amazon.com’s Instant Video. Silverstone stars with Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23‘s preternaturally pale Krysten Ritter as a couple of Manhattan party girls who wouldn’t be caught undead outside in the light of day. There’s a rich vein of satirical potential to be tapped here, but Vamps collapses in a heap of absurd miscasting (Wallace Shawn as Downton Abbey dreamboat Dan Stevens’ dad? Inconceivable!) and toothless gags.

Vamps squanders a stellar supporting cast, including formerly above-the-title talent (Sigourney Weaver—an old hand at supernatural comedy from her Ghostbusters days—and Malcolm McDowell), sitcom alums (Kristen Johnston and Marilu Henner) and standout stand-ups (Richard Lewis, Larry Wilmore and Todd Barry). In its saddest stab at an inside joke, Taylor Negron reprises his Fast Times role as “Pizza Guy,” and quickly ends up beheaded. Silverstone and Ritter try to charm their way through, but the tragic fact is Amy Heckerling is the one who’s become truly clueless.

Have you forgiven Amy Heckerling for Johnny Dangerously? Or Loser? Or Look Who’s Talking? Or Look Who’s Talking, Too? As if!

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