Charming, funny take on Jane Austen's Emma.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: July 26, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 97 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The messages are mixed. 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. Cher's father is supportive but 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.

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 is 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.


A character gets mugged at gunpoint.


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.


Several instances of "s--t." "Penis," "balls," "boink-fest," and "crimson wave" (menstruation) are mentioned. 


Materialism is a major theme. Jeep, Tiffany, Calvin Klein, Cartier, Coke, malls, and the Beverly Hills high-end shopping mecca, Rodeo Drive, are featured.

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.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie contains some strong language (including "s--t"), scenes of teens drinking and taking drugs, and some implied sex and lots of innuendo. There's also a lot of therapeutic shopping. It's edgy, but teens can handle it.

What's the story?

Cher (Alicia Silverstone) just can't keep herself out of other people's business. After one successful attempt at matchmaking, she decides to make over and set up the new girl in school, with disastrous results. Meanwhile, her own love life is rather confused, and it isn't until she starts being honest with herself that she sees what she really wants.

Is it any good?


CLUELESS 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about this movie's continued appeal. Is it still relevant? What makes it a classic for teens?

  • How is Cher less than honest with herself about her motivations for her "good deeds"? What other choices could she have made?

  •  Tai also is a character who is less than true to herself, and she pays a price. Was what she went through worth it?

  • Families also might want to look at Austen's novel and see how this adaptation reflects the original.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 26, 1995
DVD release date:June 24, 2003
Cast:Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd
Director:Amy Heckerling
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Topics:Friendship, High school
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sex related dialogue and some teen use of alcohol and drugs

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old August 29, 2009

Great movie, but some sexual content.

I loved this movie! I watched it at age eleven with my mom and fell in love with this movie! But you should know that if you watch this movie, there's gonna be a little bit of sexual content in some of the parts of the movie. So, maybe if you feel uncomfortable with that, you should wait until you have "the talk" with your parents.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written bywhateverfloats September 14, 2009
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Great messages
Kid, 12 years old May 22, 2011

Fine if your stable

This is a VERY funny movie and although there is drugs, alcohol and sex Cher and her friend avoid the majority of it (taking the bad role model out of the question) Some product placement but it doesn't bother me
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models


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