I bet that when screenwriter/director Amy Heckerling (Look Who’s Talking, European Vacation) was penning and filming this little film that could she was clueless (excuse the pun) as to the pop culture hit it would be. What seems on the surface to be just another in a long line of teen flicks is actually something of style and substance. Clothes and morals take centre stage in this Alicia Silverstone star vehicle. That is why it had the effect it did. Young people loved the language and clothes where their parents loved the message of the film.
Beverly Hills teen Cher (Alicia Silverstone – Blast From the Past, Batman & Robin) is a beautiful, stylish and popular girl. A bright girl from a very well off family, her and her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash – View From the Top, Mo’ Money) are more concerned with look good than doing well at school. Though she seems superficial Cher really enjoys helping people as she has a big heart. When she is not helping two lonely teachers hook up, she is taking on Tai (Brittany Murphy – 8 Mile, Girl, Interrupted) as a new friend. Tai is thought of as a geek and not from Cher’s social circles. Cher has a talent for fashion and makes a claim that she can turn any ugly duckling into a beautiful and popular swan. The challenge is on and Cher might even find love for herself at the same time.
A smallish movie with a big heart is how it has been described. Seen as a modern retelling of the Jane Austen novel, Emma, Clueless is one of the best teen films made over the last couple of decades. During the latter part of the 90s it was on the top 10 list of many a young adult. Unlike many other teen films, it is one that you can watch over and over. Anyone making a teen film now should be required to watch it and take notes.
Part of the success was due to the astute casting of its characters. It made a star of its star Alicia Silverstone and featured some good supporting turns from the likes of Paul Rudd (Wanderlust, Knocked Up), Donald Faison (from television’s Scrubs), Julie Brown (Earth Girls are Easy, Camp Rock), and Justin Walker. Clueless was probably the high point of Silverstone’s career as her subsequent films were mostly flops. It’s a shame because is generally a likable actress.
Most of the credit has to go to Heckerling as she managed to make a teen film that was both hip and smart. She never has the film stoop to gross out humour or ridiculous comedy. It just is sweet, charming and funny.
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