Happy Birthday to the Emma Woodhouse from the Mid-90s!
25 years ago, Amy Heckerling directed a 90s version of Jane Austen’s “Emma.” And that movie would happen to be the teen comedy “Clueless” with Alicia Silverstone as a wealthy, popular, and shallow California teenager named Cher Horowitz, who decides to turn the new girl Tai Frasier (the late Brittany Murphy) into an all out babe.
Matter of fact, she intends to make life better for other people. She has to hook up dates for both her teacher and Tai, but also she plans to help herself in the dating game.
The supporting cast also includes Stacey Dash as Cher’s BFF Dionne, Paul Rudd as her ex-stepbrother, Dan Hedaya as her gruff litigator father, Justin Walker as her crush, Wallace Shawn as her teacher, Breckin Meyer as a slacker teen, Jeremy Sisto as a handsome, but perverted hunk, and Donald Faison as Dionne’s boyfriend.
Classic stories have their own unique ways of adapting inside a different generation. The original “Emma” story was written in 1815 and was also a comedy of manners. “Clueless” was released in the Mid90s, and Heckerling gives it a lively vibe with popular teens, nerdy teachers, hit music (with Coolio, Supergrass, and The Muffs on the soundtrack), and actors who have their own young views of life inside or outside of school.
Silverstone gives the most iconic performance of her career in the ways she makes Emma Woodhouse seem like a 90s girl without being so self-congratulatory, and how she brings on her character’s personalities. Before Rudd went on to make major hits like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Ant-Man,” he offered a swell supporting role as her ex-stepbrother. Meyer also provides some silly moments as the main slacker. Hedaya has some fresh, valuable moments as the father, even if he is tough at times. And Dash and the late Murphy both help keep Silverstone in check as her friends.
Why has “Clueless” sparked a TV show, a book series, and a jukebox musical? It’s been well-known for its catchphrases and slangs, and how Cher expresses her words. To me, there’s something sweet, honest, and innocent inside the actors, characters, and writing that makes it so special. It’s poetic when we see these 90s kids go through high school life without the obligatory bullies and nerds. It’s really about a wealthy teen girl and her mission to better herself and other people, underneath her shallow attitude.