Clueless

  • Directors: Amy Heckerling
  • Producers: Scott Rudin, Robert Lawrence, Twink Caplan
  • Writers: Amy Heckerling
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Donald Faison, Breckin Meyer

Clueless is a modernized version of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma. The film tells the story of Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), a good-natured but superficial girl (based on Emma Woodhouse, the title character of the novel).

Cher is attractive, popular, and extremely rich. At a few months shy of sixteen, she has risen to the top of the high school social scene and is happy and self-assured in her insular, fashion-obsessed world. She lives in a Beverly Hills mansion with her father (Dan Hedaya), a ferocious $500-an-hour litigator; her mother is long dead, having succumbed to complications while undergoing liposuction. Cher’s best friend is Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash), who is also rich, pretty, and hip, and understands what it’s like to be envied.

Among the few people to find much fault with Cher is Josh (Paul Rudd), her socially conscious ex-stepbrother who visits during a break from college. Josh and Cher spar continually but without malice; she refers to him as “granola breath” and mocks his scruffy idealism, while he teases her for being selfish, vain, and superficial, and says that her only direction in life is “toward the mall”.

Illustrating that Cher’s selfishness is usually innocent and relatively harmless, Cher plays matchmaker for two lonely, nerdy, hard-grading teachers, Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) and Miss Geist (Twink Caplan). She achieves her original purpose – to make them relax their grading standards so she can renegotiate a bad report card – but when she sees their newfound happiness, she realizes she likes doing good deeds. Cher now decides that the ultimate way she can give back to the community would be to “adopt” a “tragically unhip” new girl at school, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy). Cher and Dionne give Tai a makeover and initiate her into the mysteries of popularity. Cher also tries to extinguish the strong mutual attraction between Tai and Travis (Breckin Meyer), an amiable skateboarding slacker, and to steer her toward Elton (Jeremy Sisto), a rich snob.

The film has a happy Hollywood ending for Cher: Mr. Hall and Miss Geist get married; her friendships with Tai and Dionne are reaffirmed; Tai and Travis are in love; and, in Josh’s arms, she too has now finally found love.

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