Alicia Silverstone Round-Up

Aerosmith Music Videos (1993-1994)

Marty Callner directs Aerosmith, Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler in this trilogy of iconic music videos.

Cryin’, Amazing and Crazy – a trio of MTV promos for ageing but undefeatable rock band Aerosmith was where and when Silverstone first became an underage household name. Cryin’ is the most fun – Silverstone dumps Stephen Dorff, steals his ride, pierces her bellybutton, dropkicks Sawyer from Lost and escapes the fuzz by leaping off a freeway. Amazing feels like a fascinating 1990s artefact. A young fan of that first music video uses CD-Roms, VR headsets and that newfangled internet to insert himself into an adventure with the Aerosmith girl à la Weird Science / Lawnmower Man. While it might seem 32-bit and laughable to Gen Z-ers (but are they ever going to watch it anyway?) Amazing actually predicts Deep Fake technology quite accurately. Crazy, in my mind, is the most iconic but now awkward. Catholic school girls Silverstone and Liv Tyler go on the run in a soft Thelma & Louise romp. Strange seeing two underage girls quite so sexualised, big knickers and all, especially when one was the lead singer’s estranged daughter. As a teen, quite close to the stamp of the computer nerd in Amazing, it was absolutely fine for me to watch these pubescent fantasies on rotation on The Box channel for an entire afternoon but whatever the adults making this thought they were up to is anyone’s guess? The budgets on these things must have been ludicrously high. The stunt work that closes the first two mini-epics are worthy of Cameron or Bigelow.

8/8/7

The Crush (1993)

Alan Shapiro directs Cary Elwes, Alicia Silverstone and Kurtwood Smith in this yuppie-in-peril thriller where a journalist moves into the guest house of a rich family where the teenage daughter quickly develops an unhealthy attraction to him.

Making an erotic thriller with the 14 year-old from hell was always going to be problematic. This sometimes feels less like a suspense piece and more an excuse to swap bikinis on Silverstone. There’s even nudity but thankfully quite glaring butt stand-ins are used. And as much as this has a deliciously strong sense of paranoia, you realise about 60 minutes in that it also doesn’t have the guts to go the whole hog and kill any characters off. Injury and threat are the order of the day. This must have worked out adequately enough for a YA / Point Horror sleepover crowd back in the day. The ending is delightfully bonkers, involving a carousel in an attic and quite the left hook punch. An absolute juvenile cheesefest but, in its defence, I really don’t think anyone who greenlit The Crush was thinking they were going toe-to-toe with The Silence Of The Lambs.

5

Blast From The Past (1998)

Hugh Wilson directs Brendan Fraser, Alicia Silverstone and Sissy Spacek in this fish-out-of-water comedy where a young(ish) man emerges from a nuclear bunker with Kennedy-era values looking for a wife in pre-millennium L.A..

After the post-Clueless stumbles of Batman & Robin and Excess Baggage, you could say some of the shine on the idea that Silverstone might be the next big box office draw had been rubbed away. It also didn’t help that a lot of dross made just before Clueless hit big was pumped out direct to video before she could find a workable vehicle. Hideaway with Jeff Goldblum is dark but cheap, while borderline soft porn (without much nudity) The Babysitter has to be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. But if any project might have kept Silverstone in the game it would have been Blast From The Past. In the U.K. it was released without much fanfare. It is more a Brendan Fraser flick with “And Alicia Silverstone” playing the romantic interest. She’s actually a neat foil to Fraser – spiky, cute and with a decent degree of agency. It might be Fraser’s show,and the star of Encino Man, George Of the Jungle and Dudley Do-Right can do this man baffled by modernity shit in his sleep, but she adds value. Blast From the Past is the most solid example of him doing what he does. Sincere, blocky, naive goofball. He throws himself into his out-of-time nerd Adam with a decent aplomb and creates sweet vibes between himself and Silverstone. You want them to end up together right from the off and if this found its audience it might have positioned her as the natural inheritor of Meg Ryan and / or Julia Roberts’ mantle. Similar in tone, to Pleasantville with Reese Witherspoon but noticeably less focussed and often shoddily made and edited. This needed a more consistent director than the guy from the Police Academy movies… especially when it makes a lengthy hash of the first act. It feels like a considerable amount of time before this finds its groove and just is a gentle, light watch. Still, there’s enough good stuff here that it fills an evening with no real pressing demands on the viewer.

6

Scorched (2003)

Gavin Grazer directs Alicia Silverstone, Rachael Leigh Cook and Woody Harrelson in this crime caper where three disgruntled bank employees all separately decide to rip off their branch on the same weekend.

Very much a poor man’s Go, let’s not even mention Pulp Fiction. None of the three minor heists ever reach an individual crescendo and there is minimal overlap, which is mad, given the pregnant with possibilities elevator pitch. Silverstone is underserved but has a nice chemistry with the himbo she hooks up with for her score. Given a bit more room to breathe, and anything resembling peril, her segment might have been quite a lark… but you could say that about Woody Harrelson’s subplot also. Underwhelming, unfunny and only memorable when it is being brightly obnoxious. This was never going to course correct her career.

3

Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/

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