Now this is something. A documentary on teen cinema and there isn't an eighties teen movie in sight. John Hughes is never referenced. Less a nostalgic throwback, more an extension to Garry Mulholland's excellent book Stranded At The Drive-In, or Mark Cousins' A Story Of Children And Film, journalist and blogger Charlie Lyne's documentary explores the themes of teen movies – both mainstream and those under the radar - since 1995's Clueless.
An examination of sex, identity, and the tug of war between the conformity of the cliques and the individuality of the outsider, Beyond Clueless finds much beneath the surface of The Craft, I Know What You Did Last Summer, She's All That, Spider-man, and Meangirls, which sit next to lesser lights Disturbing Behaviour, The Doom Generation, Can't Hardly Wait, Bubble Boy, Idle Hands, and Slap Her, She's French.
Narrated with an easy-going nature by Fairuza Balk (The Craft, Almost Famous) the movies and the audience-friendly analysis flit by (two hundred films are on show here). Lyne occasionally gives the audience a break from the essays with clever montages (to the sounds of Summer Camp) which have fun with the recurring motifs of the genre: the prom, the house party, the slow-motion walk down the hall, the dip in the pool, the sex scene.
Lyne throws up surprises with some creative insight. The examination of latent homosexuality in Jeepers Creepers and Euro Trip may warrant another viewing (the latter not just a string of homophobic gags as it turns out), and there's a nice link between The Faculty and Josie and the Pussycats (Lyne resisting the temptation to reference their forerunner, 1989's Society).
Sadly, there's no room for Superbad, Dazed and Confused, Election, Juno, Easy A, Thirteen, and Chronicle. Underrated gems like Bandslam, Rocket Science, Thumbsucker, The Wackness, Pretty Persuasion, and Teeth are left out in the cold too. Donnie Darko and Larry Clark's Bully receive only fleeting mentions. Anything outside the US isn't addressed at all: an appearance of Y Tu Mama Tambien, Ben X or Turn Me On, Goddammit would have been nice. Oddly, Clueless escapes an examination.
For lovers of the genre, and for those who dismiss teen movies as nothing more than boob and fart gags, this Pervert's Guide To Teen Cinema is a must-see.