Film fans watching Look Who’s Talking Too at the dawn of the 90s might never have guessed that writer-director Amy Heckerling’s next film – a full five years later – would be one of the decade’s great Hollywood comedies.
But in refitting the matchmaking plot of Jane Austen’s Emma for the super-rich kids of modern Beverly Hills, Heckerling arrived at one of the glories of the high-school-movie golden age.
Chic but dippy blonde Cher Hamilton (Alicia Silverstone) and her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash) are going on 16 and know everything about being gorgeous, popular, and always in vogue.
The duo indulges in the trials and tribulations of designer-label animosity and MTV promiscuity, while Cher’s lawyer father, Mel (Dan Hedaya) and intellectual stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd) look on in total bemusement.
Everything changes, though, when new transfer student Tai (Brittany Murphy) arrives. She is, in a word, “clueless”, and Cher sees it as her mission in life to give grungy Tai a complete makeover.
Cher rejects the popular Elton (Jeremy Sisto) but is ready to renounce her celibacy for way-cute Christian (Justin Walker) – that is, until she figures out that Christian is gay and she might really be in love with her stepbrother Josh, who thinks Cher is a selfish egoist.
Like Heathers (1989) before it, director Amy Heckerling’s smart satire sharpens its comedic scalpel on the manners and mores of self-centred fashion victims.
Clueless is such a smart and sweet-natured take on the tribulations of teenhood and privilege that even the genre’s time-honoured virginity-losing imperative is seen through a sharp satire on consumerism: “You see how picky I am about my shoes”, says Cher, “and they only go on my feet!”
It also has some great one-liners: “What did you do in school today?” “Oh, I broke in my purple clogs”; “What’s the point of learning to park when every place you go to has a valet?”
ABC replaced the wonderful Alicia Silverstone with the bland Rachel Blanchard for a TV series version of Clueless and although original stars Stacey Dash, Donald Faison, Elisa Donovan and Wallace Shawn reprised their roles, ABC – and later UPN – toned down several key elements of the film for the TV adaptation, which lasted three seasons.
In addition to making Cher less self-absorbed and completely tossing out her romantic relationship with her ex-step-brother Josh, the series also shied away from some of the more controversial storylines covered in the film such as teen sex and drug use. Whatever!
Majorly = very
Do-able = sexually attractive
Hottie = a do-able babe
Baldwin = a gorgeous hunk