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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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What's the story?
In CLUELESS, 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?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Clueless' 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 Jane Austen's novel Emma and see how this adaptation reflects the original.
- In theaters: July 26, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: June 24, 2003
- Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd
- Director: Amy Heckerling
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, High School
- Character strengths: Communication, Empathy, Humility
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sex related dialogue and some teen use of alcohol and drugs
- Last updated: March 15, 2021
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