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Celebrate the 18th Anniversary of Amy Heckerling's Clueless

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by Kerensa Cadenas
July 19, 2013 4:30 PM
4 Comments
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Clueless

I remember watching Clueless for the first time when I was in 5th grade. It was immediately my favorite movie because I wanted all of Cher's clothes, her electronic wardrobe and thought Paul Rudd was super dreamy.

18 years ago today, Clueless was released in theaters taking teen girls and boys alike by storm with its platform jelly sandals, slang and killer soundtrack. Loosely based on Jane Austen's Emma, the film follows popular Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash) as they flit around Beverly Hills shopping, matchmaking teachers, making over classmate (and new best friend) Tai (Brittany Murphy) and dealing with guys from Dionne's psuedo-macho but sweet boyfriend Murray (Donald Faison) to Cher's annoyingly intellectual but hot stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd).

I still consider Clueless one of my favorite films and not just for the reasons above. First, Amy Heckerling is a greatly underrated director/writer (check out I Could Never Be Your Woman as proof). She's also understands teen culture--the aesthetics and language of it--but always takes teens seriously. It's a film that never gets old or feels dated and I always find new things to enjoy about it much in part to Heckerling. 

When I watched Clueless as a teen, I focused on the budding romance between Cher and Josh. While it still makes me swoon, the more important relationships in Clueless are Cher's female friendships. Her friendships with both Dionne and Tai are unwavering. They are loyal and devoted to one another--even if they mess up--they ultimately come back together in the end. 

With a lesser director, script and lead actress, it could have been easy to write Cher off in her own words as "a ditz with a credit card." Cher's big heart, great one-liners and devotion to female friendships gave Clueless the soul to stand the test of time. 

Check out Jace Lacob's lovely ode to Clueless coming of age over at Buzzfeed Entertainment. 

Watch one of the best scenes from the film below. Share your Clueless memories in the comments. 


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4 Comments

  • Zeke | July 20, 2013 1:42 AMReply

    I watched this film when it came out, so I would have been six at the time. I instantly fell in love with this movie and even though I was young when I watched it, I was still able to somehow, at six years old understand the powerful themes that are evident throughout the film. I think a lot of the successful this film experienced has to do with the strong female lead that Cher's character brought to the film. She is able to confidently stand up for herself in mosygonistic environments while still maintaining a sense of naivete. I think this sent a strong message to young female viewers that confusion is part of the development process but not to allow confusion to be confused with submission. Overall, I loved this movie and hope to see a similar film for the next generation of young female viewers to relate to.

  • Victoria | July 19, 2013 9:44 PMReply

    I have always loved this movie, and watching it through the years I have noticed many things. The way the movie starts with the focus on Cher, the teenage girls in bikinis, the material life; it all looks superficial and objective. As you watch the movie further though it has more depth and challenges gender stereotypes and class. I love that Clueless was a remake of "Emma" with a modern day twist. It seems to challenge the stereotypes for women; at least Cher did. She seemed to make her own decisions, she did not cater to the guys that showed interest to her, and she talked about being a virgin as a good thing. I agree how Cher focuses on her friendships a lot and takes care of others. I think it is hilarious how she tries to match everyone up but struggles on her own. I found this film to be a chick flick that has a classic Hollywood style. She still ends up with a guy, and she makes things right with everyone by the end. The protagonist seems to be Cher and the guy she ends up with, while her friend and another guy are the antagonist in this movie. Happy 18 years Clueless!! You will always be one of my favorites!

  • Paul | July 19, 2013 5:48 PMReply

    I actually never saw Clueless until somewhat recently. I think if I had seen it as a teenager my first impressions would have been much different. There are some positives in the film, like the emphasis on female friendship. Admittedly, Cher seems to place a lot of value on her friendships--even after they fight. She shines out as a warm, friendly person among her peer group which is mostly shallow, materialistic, and judgmental. She cares about other people, and makes their issues a priority in her life. That is a wonderful example.

    I do worry about Cher's materialism, however, and the way she uses her sexuality to manipulate people for her benefit. The way she earned her grades through manipulation rather than by her own hard work and academic merit undermines the educational system. Perhaps I took it too seriously; maybe it was written as tongue-in-cheek to serve as a warning. I can see many lines and situations that are ironic and sarcastic in nature, however, particularly the way they parody high school stereotypes. That is fine, as long as whoever watches the film gets the joke. But what if some impressionable young mind out there takes it seriously, and develops a similar irreverent attitude toward education? I don't remember any consequences from the lack of focus in school. Sure, she is a powerful female who gets what she wants in high school, but what are her aspirations for the future? Also, why did it seem like the girls in the movie were required to have a boyfriend? Wouldn't it be alright if they were unattached? Why does Ty have to be converted to this line of thinking as well? Again, maybe the movie is simply poking fun at itself. It that's the intent, it may not be obvious enough for some of the younger viewers.

  • Jess | July 19, 2013 7:21 PM

    As a woman who saw this movie when it was released (and I a teenager), let me say that I was quite capable of suspending disbelief and separating the fantasy of being a wealthy Beverly Hills princess from the applicable messages about friendship (for instance, I had no sudden urge to match-make my teachers). Though I do worry that some "impressionable young minds" will take Caddyshack as a summer job how to...

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