Clueless Review
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Nearly 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still an inspiration in the entertainment world. Her books continue to be adapted into everything from TV and movie versions and copycat fiction to kooky literary mash-ups—some more obvious than others. For instance, writer/director Amy Heckerling’s Clueless may look like just another frothy teen rom-com, but it’s actually an updated Austen adaptation.

Inspired by Austen’s beloved classic Emma, Clueless follows spoiled, superficial Beverly Hills teen Cher (Alicia Silverstone) on a series of lovably naive attempts to make the world (or at least her high school) a better place. After failing to talk her debate teacher, Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn), into giving her a better grade, Cher decides to make him happier (and therefore more accommodating) by matching him with lonely guidance counselor Miss Geist (played by associate producer Twink Caplan).

Still basking in the glow of a successful match, Cher chooses her next project: new girl Tai (Brittany Murphy). Together with her best friend, Dionne (Stacey Dash), she gives Tai a makeover and helps her learn the ropes of high school popularity. But, this time around, things don’t go as planned—for neither Cher nor her eager subject.

For Jane Austen fans, Clueless is a lovable guilty pleasure: a modern-day romantic comedy that closely follows a favorite work of classic literature. In fact, even the most hardcore literary snobs—those who tend to see themselves as above mainstream entertainment—can’t help but be strangely drawn to this delightful little scavenger hunt of references and similarities.

At the same time, though, even if you haven’t read Emma (and you couldn’t care less about Jane Austen), Clueless is still an enjoyable chick flick—a fluffy comedy about fashion, popularity, and teen romance, complete with lovable characters and a memorable ‘90s soundtrack.

Really, it’s the characters—paired with a noteworthy young cast—that make the film. Silverstone is oddly endearing as the flighty young do-gooder in Gucci. Though Cher may be shallow and clueless, she’s often so misguidedly well-meaning that you can’t help but love her. But she’s not alone. From Murphy’s wide-eyed new girl, Tai, to Breckin Meyer’s adorably dim slacker, Travis Birkenstock, the film is loaded with unforgettable characters. And, for many of us, this is when we first fell in love with Paul Rudd, who plays Cher’s flannel-clad ex-stepbrother, Josh, with the same kind of awkward appeal that still comes through in his roles today.

Admittedly, the conclusion is rather awkward—and more than slightly creepy, when you really stop to think about it. But it’s all too easy to get caught up in the California-girl comedy and romance of it all. So, whether you’re a diehard Jane Austen fan or you’re just looking for a fun-filled ‘90s chick flick, this quotable classic literary update is worth picking up on your next shopping spree with the girls.

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