The title of the film is in very colourful bubbly writing which tells the viewer that is certainly not a horror/action/thriller movie. The writing indicates what they are about to see is about having a fun and it creates a theme of happiness. Even the usually silent opening logo of Paramount Pictures is now played with a soundtrack, involving the viewer immediately into the film. The film begins with a montage of shots with the song “Kids in America” but in the shots, these aren’t just any American kids, the song suggests “average” as in all kids, but the visual contradicts this.
The film shows a particular group of people, their lifestyle and position are clearly defined by the visual montage. The handheld camera used in the shot moves in carefree style depicting their fun and frivolity, their pace of life and movement. Unusual camera angles are used but all focused clearly on Cher (overhead and close-up), as the voiceover begins this helps to establish Cher as the main character as the audience realises who is speaking but does not yet know her name.
There is an irony in the voiceover as Cher try’s to convince the viewer that she is a normal teenager but visually contradicts this – Her “normal” life computer selection of clothes. The song “Fashion Girl” is played in the background to parody the statement. Cher is presented as someone who has very little in her life to distress or vex her. Cher then introduces her father, a litigator; “the scariest kind of lawyers”- he gets paid for arguing and even their “Maid Lucy is terrified of him”.
There is a back shot of him- his faceless figure fills the frame, he needs to open the double doors at the top of the staircase to get through, this indicates his “presence” both in Cher’s life and for the viewer; He dominates the screen, indicating his position. There are visual jokes made by Heckerling as maid Lucy runs from him which is reinforces later in a dinner scene as she hesitantly places the food down before him. The next shot begins an image of Cher looking after her father health which is reinforced in later scenes as she is always concerned about his diet and food.
The film establishes very clearly here that Josh is a step brother, her father “hardly even married to his mother”, there is no blood relationship to Cher. Cher is shown learning to drive; there are shots of her jeep on her own. Cher lists the cars attributes, and says the she hasn’t even got a license yet, after which a slight joke is made as she hits pot plant on the sidewalk. The long shot indicates the speed of the jeep, the exaggerated smoke, noise and sound suggests Cher’s recklessness, carelessness, showing that she believes she is in control despite evidence to the contrary.
The shots of driving through Beverly Hills streets with the palm trees and houses all depict money, reinforcing that these aren’t just any kids in America. To Cher and Dionne Beverly Hills is the centre of the World – and therefore the World itself. When Cher picks up Dionne the viewer is told what they have in common; they both know “what it’s like to have people jealous of us”. Later on when Cher comes up to the stop sign, she pauses but does not stop, this shows that she likes to make her own rules up.