Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Amy Heckerling|
|Produced by||Scott Rudin
Barry M. Berg
|Written by||Amy Heckerling|
|Music by||David Kitay|
|Editing by||Debra Chiate|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||97 minutes|
Clueless is a 1995 American comedy film loosely based on Jane Austen's 1815 novel Emma. It stars Alicia Silverstone in the lead role, Stacey Dash, Paul Rudd and Brittany Murphy. The film is set in the town of Beverly Hills and was written and directed by Amy Heckerling and produced by Scott Rudin, it was released in the United States on July 19, 1995.
Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is a good-natured but superficial girl who is attractive, popular, and extremely wealthy. A few months shy of her sixteenth birthday, 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 Mel (Dan Hedaya), a ferocious $500-an-hour litigator; her mother has long since died, having succumbed to complications while undergoing liposuction surgery. 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 ostensible 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 actually enjoys 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 Birkenstock (Breckin Meyer), an amiable skateboarding slacker, and to steer her toward Elton (Jeremy Sisto), a rich snob whose father is a music-industry executive.
Her second matchmaking scheme backfires when Elton rejects Tai and makes a play for Cher. Matters worsen when Cher's "project" works a bit too well and Tai's popularity begins to surpass Cher's, especially after Tai has a "near-death" misadventure at the mall that helps to skyrocket her to fame at school. Other classmates, including Dionne's and Cher's longtime rival Amber (Elisa Donovan), soon gravitate toward Tai, and Cher finds herself demoted from queen to courtier at high school.
Events reach crisis stage after Cher fails her driver's test and can't "renegotiate" the result. When Cher returns home, crushed, Tai confides that she's taken a fancy to Josh and wants Cher to help her "get" him. Cher says she doesn't think Josh is right for Tai, and they quarrel. Cher, left all alone, begins to think she has created a monster in her own image. Feeling "totally clueless," she reflects on her priorities and her repeated failures to understand or appreciate the people in her life. Most of all, she keeps thinking about Josh and Tai, and wonders why she cares so much.
After much soul searching (which includes a solo shopping spree around various Beverly Hills boutiques), Cher realizes she has fallen in love with Josh. She begins making awkward but sincere efforts to live a more purposeful life, even captaining the school's Pismo Beach disaster relief effort. A scene near the end of the film finds Cher and Josh stumbling over how to admit their mutual feelings for one another, culminating in a tender kiss on the stairs of her home.
The film has a happy Hollywood ending for Cher: Mr. Hall and Miss Geist get married; her friendships with Tai and Dionne are reaffirmed and solidified; Tai and Travis are in love; and now, in Josh's arms, she too has finally found love.
Cast of characters
The film's central characters are:
- Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz: A sweet but spoiled Valley Girl type – though she actually lives in Beverly Hills. Living in a mansion, waited on by servants, and flaunting her wealth with fashion, she's the undisputed queen of Beverly Hills High School. Cher is also tough and clever, like her father Mel. Cher convinces two of her teachers that each is a secret admirer of the other, negotiating her way from a C+ average to an A- average. Cher doesn’t have a regular boyfriend and she describes finding a boyfriend in high school as "being as pointless as looking for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie." In an example of movie-production continuity failure, her surname is "Hamilton" on her report card, as is her father's when he tosses aside a piece of mail. She is based on the character Emma Woodhouse.
- Stacey Dash as Dionne Davenport: Cher’s best friend. Both she and Cher are rich and beautiful, but caring. Cher uses Dionne as her number one fashion critic. Dionne and boyfriend Murray (played by Donald Faison) have an extremely tumultuous relationship and are often quarreling (an inversion of the idealized relationship between Austen's Isabella and John Knightley). They undergo spats about Murray shaving his head and Dionne finding “cheap polyester hair” in the backseat of his car, but they also bond over Dionne’s first driving experience on the freeway, inspiring a wistful admiration in Cher.
- Brittany Murphy as Tai Frasier: The ugly duckling transformed into the beautiful swan. Cher and Dionne decide to give her a makeover. With a change of hair, makeup and clothing, Tai gains confidence and a sense of style. Originally Tai fell for skater Travis (Breckin Meyer), but Cher tried to set up Tai with “it boy” Elton to boost her popularity. After a “near-death experience” at the mall, Tai obtains an overly confident attitude that ultimately poses a threat to Cher's social status. She also develops a crush on Josh, and asks Cher to help her get him. By the end of the film, Tai regains Cher's respect and friendship, and begins to date Travis. This was Murphy's first major film role. She is based on the Emma character Harriet Smith.
- Paul Rudd as Josh Lucas: Cher's ex-stepbrother, as Mel had been married to Josh's mother five years earlier. Josh has ambitions to be a lawyer (his focus is environmental law), and during a college break comes for a protracted visit Cher and her father at their house; he claims that being around Mel is a "great learning experience." Throughout the film, Josh teases Cher, but at the same time shows his caring and concern for her. He is based on the Emma character George Knightley.
- Dan Hedaya as Mel Horowitz: A gruff and successful workaholic litigator, he is constantly involved in big cases in Beverly Hills, where he lives with his teenage daughter Cher. Despite being divorced from Josh's mother, he tells his daughter "You divorce wives, not children" and is very protective of Cher, telling Christian: "If anything happens to my daughter, I've got a .45 and a shovel. I doubt anybody would miss you." He is based on the Emma character Mr. Henry Woodhouse.
- Elisa Donovan as Amber Mariens: A popular spoiled brat who is despised by Cher and Dionne, she is in constant competition with Cher when it comes to style, popularity, and boys. Cher dubs her a "Monet" (just like the painting, "from far away it's okay, but up close it's a big old mess.") She is based on the Emma character Augusta Elton.
- Justin Walker as Christian Stovitz: Cher's love interest. To catch Christian's attention, Cher sends herself flowers, candies, and love notes. Christian finally attends a party with Cher. Cher plans a big night to finally "do it" with Christian, but he ignores her advances. It is later revealed that that is because he is not interested in girls. He is based on the Emma character Frank Churchill.
- Other characters
- Wallace Shawn as Mr. Wendell Hall - He is based on the Emma character Mr. Weston
- Twink Caplan as Ms. Geist - She is based on the Emma character Miss Taylor/Mrs. Weston
- Julie Brown as Coach Millie Stoeger
- Donald Faison as Murray Duvall - Dionne's long-term boyfriend
- Breckin Meyer as Travis Birkenstock - He is based on the Emma character Robert Martin.
- Jeremy Sisto as Elton Tiscia - He is based on the Emma character Philip Elton.
- Nicole Bilderback as Summer
The film had a 40-day filming schedule. Producers sat in on classes at Beverly Hills High School to get a feel for the student culture. Herb Hall, the real drama teacher at Beverly Hills High School, played the principal in the film. Scenes depicting the high school campus, including the tennis courts, the outdoor cafeteria, the quad, and various classrooms were filmed at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
A special "Whatever! Edition" 10th anniversary DVD was released on August 30, 2005. It included featurettes and cast interviews, including:
- The Class of '95 – A look at the cast
- Creative Writing – Amy Heckerling talks about the script
- Fashion 101 – How filmmakers invented the trendsetting style of Clueless
- Language Arts – The director and cast members give facts on the groundbreaking slang, and how Clueless revived Valspeak slang
- Suck and Blow – How to play the game depicted in the Sun Valley party scene
- Driver's Ed
- We're History – Stories from cast and crew of Clueless
- Two theatrical trailers
The film was released on Blu-ray disc for the first time on May 1, 2012. Special features were carried over from the "Whatever!" edition of 2005, and included a new trivia track.
The film became a surprise sleeper hit of 1995, grossing well over $11 million on its opening weekend #2 behind Apollo 13, and it eventually grossed $55 million during its theatrical run. It was the 32nd highest-grossing film of 1995 and brought the then-largely-unknown actress Alicia Silverstone to international attention. It also developed a strong cult following after its release.
The film was also well received by critics. It currently holds an 81% "Certified Fresh" rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly selected Clueless as one of the "New Classics," a list of 100 released between 1983 and 2008, Clueless was ranked 42nd.
In 2008 Entertainment Weekly named it the 19th best comedy of the past 25 years.
American Film Institute recognition:
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "As if!" - Nominated
Silverstone stated that she "always felt connected to [Murphy] as [they] shared a very special experience in [their] lives together." Following Murphy's death, Silverstone reported in an interview: "I loved working with Brittany. She was so talented, so warm, and so sweet."
The cast reunited in 2012 for Entertainment Weekly's reunion issue.
Amy Heckerling later reunited with both Silverstone and Shawn for the vampire comedy Vamps.
- "Kids in America" (The Muffs) – 3:18
- "Shake Some Action" (David Lowery) – 4:25
- "The Ghost in You" (Counting Crows) – 3:30
- "Here" (Squirmel Mix) (Luscious Jackson) – 3:33
- "All the Young Dudes" (World Party) – 4:00
- "Fake Plastic Trees [Acoustic Version]" (Radiohead) – 4:45
- "Change" (Lightning Seeds) – 4:01
- "Need You Around" (Smoking Popes) – 3:42
- "Mullet Head" (Beastie Boys) – 2:53
- "Where'd You Go?" (The Mighty Mighty Bosstones) – 3:16
- "Rollin' with My Homies" (Coolio) – 4:06
- "Alright" (Supergrass) – 3:01
- "My Forgotten Favorite" (Velocity Girl) – 3:49
- "Supermodel" (Jill Sobule) – 3:07
In 1996, the producers created a spinoff television series, which followed the continuing adventures of Cher and her friends. Several cast members from the film went on to star in the TV program, with the notable exceptions of Alicia Silverstone (who went on to sign a film deal with Columbia-TriStar worth $10 million) and Paul Rudd. Silverstone was replaced in the series with actress Rachel Blanchard.
- Stacey Dash reprised the role of Dionne.
- Donald Faison reprised the role of Murray.
- Elisa Donovan reprised the role of Amber.
- Michael Lerner (1st season) and Doug Sheehan replaced Dan Hedaya as Mel.
- David Lascher replaced Paul Rudd as Josh.
- Heather Gottlieb replaced Brittany Murphy as Tai.
- Teachers Mr. Hall, Ms. Geist, and Coach Stoeger (played by their respective actors) appeared in the series, but Coach Stoeger's last name was changed to "Diemer."
A collection of books was also published after the release of the film by Simon Spotlight Entertainment publishing company from 1995-1999. These books were published as paperbacks and aimed at adolescent readers.
- "The New Classics: Movies". Entertainment Weekly. Time. 2008-06-27. Retrieved 2009-07-03.
- "Clueless, Alicia Silverstone, ... | 100 New Movie Classics: No. 50-26". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved 2009-07-03.
- "Clueless, Alicia Silverstone, ... | The Comedy 25: The Funniest Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved 2009-07-03.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- "Alicia Silverstone: I Hope Brittany Murphy Is at Peace". People Magazine. December 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-20.
- Haramis, Nick (09/13/12), Alicia Silverstone & Amy Heckerling: A Reunion, retrieved 09/18/12
- "'Clueless' Reunion On Entertainment Weekly Makes Us Miss Cher And Dionne". The Huffington Post. 10/05/12. Retrieved 11/4/12.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Clueless (film)|
- Official website
- Clueless at the Internet Movie Database
- Clueless at allmovie
- Clueless at Box Office Mojo
- Clueless at Rotten Tomatoes