Combined with the Spice Girls phenomenon and an international obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the epitome of nineties teen culture occurred in 1995 with the release of Amy Heckerling’s Clueless. To the disbelief of an entire generation, this month has marked its twentieth anniversary and although the film acts as a pool of dated pop culture references, fashion items and music, it’s still as loved today as it was back in ’95.
A loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, meaning you could probably blag the film as being highbrow when you next have a lazy pyjama day, Clueless follows the wealthy and popular Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) as she aims to do good within her high school and make people happy – enter Tai (Brittany Murphy), a new student with a low IQ but a whole lotta potential.
Spurring some serious attitude, encouraging fans to add “whatever” and “as if” to their daily vocabulary, Heckerling’s award winning screenplay is truly iconic with catchphrases, hilarious one-liners, a simple yet engaging narrative, and a set of characters that don’t conform to your standard two-dimensional arrays in summer teen flicks. Supported by this, Clueless helped its cast shoot to acclaim and popularity; Brittany Murphy went from acting on the small screen to landing major Hollywood roles, as did Paul Rudd who is now most notable for acting within Marvel’s cinematic universe.
Having directed five feature films before Clueless, Heckerling has most recently directed episodes of such TV shows as Gossip Girl and The Carrie Diaries. In 1999 she received the Women in Film Crystal Award for helping to expand the role of women within the film industry, not forgetting the AFI’s Franklin J. Schaffner Medal the preceding year and the NSFC’s award for Best Screenplay in 1995. And to think that Clueless was originally passed on, before Paramount took it under their wing, on the basis that it was too female orientated!
Igniting a small franchise that included a TV series that ran three seasons from 1996 – 1999 (Stacey Dash, Donald Faison, Elisa Donovan, Wallace Shawn and Twink Caplan all reprised their film roles as Dionne, Murray, Amber, Mr. Hall and Ms. Geist respectively) and a series of young adult novels, Clueless has rightfully gained cult status and is of equal cultural significance to such teen classics as The Breakfast Club and Dazed and Confused. Whether you’re wanting to sit down and concentrate or you’re in search of something to watch whilst you fold the laundry, look no further.
Do you give Clueless two thumbs up?
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