A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The messages are mixed, but themes include communication, empathy, and humility. Cher is absorbed with her looks, clothing, and position in her high school's social order. As such, she has a set of rules that parallel Jane Austen's Edwardian mores and restrictions. Getting high occasionally at a party is OK, but "it is quite another thing to be fried all day," for example. Teens drink at a party, but a drunk teen is shown vomiting in a pool.
Positive Role Models
Cher remakes Tai, the new kid who dresses wrong, talks wrong, does too many drugs, and has too much sex. Cher espouses her philosophy throughout, demonstrating that though she's smart, she also is ignorant. Despite her own cluelessness, Cher does some good. She matches two lonely teachers romantically. And she comes to admire her more serious, "do-gooder" stepbrother, who influences her to question her selfishness and values. Characters quote Hamlet and Dickens and read books by Nietzsche and William Burroughs. Cher's father is extremely supportive and family-oriented though also brusque and rude. He yells when her grades are low, then beams with pride when she uses her powers to persuade a teacher to improve her grade instead of doing the required schoolwork.
Violence & Scariness
A character gets mugged at gunpoint.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Cher is ready to lose her virginity but doesn't realize the guy she targets is gay. Teens kiss. Sex is discussed and joked about.
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Several instances of "s--t." "Penis," "balls," "boink-fest," and "crimson wave" (menstruation). "Retard." Sexual innuendo -- talk of crooked penises, and double entendre over the word "balls." "Crap." "A--hole." Kids from a different clique are called "loadies" because they dress slovenly and are assumed to be on drugs. Goatee is called "chin pubes."
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Products & Purchases
Materialism is a major theme. Jeep, Tiffany, Calvin Klein, Cartier, Coke, malls, and the Beverly Hills high-end shopping mecca, Rodeo Drive, are featured. Lead characters often shown carrying Starbucks cups. Advil label clearly shown. A student, in a mock "acceptance speech" for having the most tardies, "thanks" McDonald's and their Egg McMuffins. One of the characters sings along to the Mentos commercial jingle playing on television.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink and smoke marijuana ("doobies") at a party. They discuss other drugs (one mentions the beverage Coke and someone thinks she means cocaine). A pothead joins a 12-step program to get clean, is shown donating his bong to help flood victims. Drunk teen at a party vomits in a pool.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Clueless is a 1995 teen comedy in which Alicia Silverstone plays a materialistic Beverly Hills teen who learns to understand what's really important in life. It's an oh-so-'90s retelling of Jane Austen's Emma, but amidst the "as if!" and "What! Ever!" catchphrases and baggy clothing, there are some mixed messages about teen sex, underage drinking and drug use, and materialism. There's occasional mild profanity, but also use of the word "retard" in a pejorative way, as well as calling the grunge-skater clique "loadies." Some sexual innuendo: Talk of crooked penises, and double entendre over the word "balls." A goatee is called "chin pubes." A teen is shown vomiting in a pool after drinking heavily. One of the "loadie" students is shown donating his bong to charity. A student walks to the window of the classroom as if he's going to jump out. There's also frequent consumerism: product placement of Mentos, Starbucks, and McDonald's, as well as a steady reference from Silverstone's character to the stores she likes at the mall and the fashion brands she likes best. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This movie is loosely based on Jane Austen's Emma, and it does an excellent job of transferring the story to a contemporary context. It doesn't feel dated -- the direction is bright and fresh, and the performances are uniformly excellent. Silverstone is particularly good, managing to be charming, ditsy, and annoying all at once, and it's clear why this movie made her a star.
This film isn't appropriate for young kids -- it contains drinking, drug use, and implied sex -- but teens will love it. And it might even get them to read some Jane Austen.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.