Paragraph one: Intro+Thesis
Paragraph Two: Summary
Paragraph Three: Critic 1
Paragraph Four: Critic 2
Paragraph Five: Critic 3
Paragraph Six: Critic 4
Paragraph Seven: Conclusion
Critic Reviews: Clueless
Released in 1995, Clueless is a timeless comedy grossing over $56 million during its
theatrical run, becoming the 32nd highest-grossing film of that year. Amy Heckerling, the
director of the popular teen flick, effectively uses various film techniques to further portray the
transformation of a selfishly clueless girl to a responsible woman. The universal themes of social
class, friendship, love, and responsibility are represented throughout the film. The 1995 film is
arguably an instant classic from its pop culture references to its totally quotable dialogue. The
coming of age film overlaps the storyline of one of England’s foremost novelists, Jane Austen
and one of her literary works, Emma. Hundreds of critics have had constructive reviews on the final product of the film. All four critics chosen had positive feedback.
In the film, Cher is a popular and wealthy girl from Beverly Hills, who lives with her
widowed father. Cher is easily likable as her charm gets her through most of her high school life.
Cher and her best friend, Dionne, undertake themselves on a task by giving a makeover to a new
student, Tai. Meanwhile, Cher’s debate teacher gives her a ‘C’ for the semester. She hatches a
plan to set her debate teacher with another staff member in order to boost her grades up. To improve Tai’s social standing, Cher attempts to set Tai up with Elton, who already has a crush on
Cher. Josh, Cher’s former stepbrother, disapproves of Cher’s project with Tai, claiming that Cher
is grooming an innocent girl into a brat. Another new student, Christain, arrives at the high
school and Cher jumps to date him. Once Cher realizes Christain is gay, her efforts in trying to
spark a relationship between them came to a sudden halt. Later, Tai surpasses Cher’s popularity
when word spread of her encounter with death at the mall. The following day, Tai reveals that
she had a crush on Josh and hopes that Cher would help them get together. Conflicted by what
she has discovered, Cher tells Tai that Josh is wrong for her, which results in a quarrel between
the girls. Feeling lost and clueless, Cher begins to reflect on her priorities and her desires. Cher
undergoes a spiritual makeover herself and realizes that she loved Josh all along. Both Josh and
Cher admit their feelings to one another and share a passionate kiss at the end of the film.
Both Clueless and Jane Austen’s Emma share similar storylines in many ways than one.
Despite their different time periods, Clueless has impersonations of the characters from the
novel. In the Jane Austen novel, Emma Woodhouse is a wealthy, overachieving girl who lives
with her indulgent father. Just as Cher, Emma is also a meddler and tends to manipulate
situations as well. In both plotlines, Cher and Emma have setbacks when trying to matchmake. Another example of how Emma overlaps with Clueless is that both Emma and Cher fall in love with their “brother-figures” and take on a project to raise the social status of another character.
For starters, Roger Ebert, a movie critic writing for Chicago Sun-Times, notes his
impression of 1995’s, Clueless. Ebert exclaims that the film overall is “smart” and “funny,” not
just with the plot but also the characters. Ebert acknowledges references from the film to the Jane
Austen novel. He begins his critique by enthusiastically quoting the film’s legendary dialogue
and mocking the teenage lingo. Ebert goes on to explain the characters of the film by subtly
analyzing their behaviors. He notes how the actresses, Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash, who
portray as Cher and Dionne in the film, do not limit themselves to their characters’ dialogue and
teen behavior. As Ebert concludes his review, he mentions that the film’s director, Amy
Heckerling, has had many more entertaining films such as 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Ebert summarized his thoughts by stating that the comedy is aimed at teenagers and would
appeal to anybody with a sense of humor and an “ear for the ironic.” Ebert focuses on two performances especially:
Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash display the knack of suggesting that their characters are not limited by their airhead dialogue and teen queen behavior. They talk that way, and do those things, but with a sly humor that suggests they’re putting themselves on. (“What’d you do in school today?” “Broke in my purple clogs.”) And their motives are essentially pure. They want to help out poor Tai because she doesn’t have a clue. After they have completed their makeover of her face and wardrobe and given away all their boy-catching tricks, Tai becomes popular and not very nice. And in the way the girls handle this development, they reveal some quiet insights.
The Washington Post film critic Hal Hinson shared his opinion on the “buoyantly funny” film. Just as Ebert did, Hinson compares Heckerling’s Clueless to her 1982 debut, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He draws attention to the similarities between the films, both of which have teens who speak their own lingo, socialize at the mall with their friends, and obsess over hot guys. Hinson describes Cher’s character as a “privileged” and “shallow” girl who doesn’t have a care in the world in her “pretty blonde head.” This suggests the idea that a typical popular girl in teen flicks are rich, snobby, and usually a dumb blonde. He highlights Cher’s status and style-obsessed persona and her ability to manipulate people into getting what she wants. Hinson credits Alicia Silverstone’s “lively” performance and her impressionable instinct for comedy. He concludes his review by acknowledging Heckerling’s satirical tendency to poke fun at materialistic kids, which enables her audience to enjoy the characters of the film even more.
Furthermore, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Stack injected his opinion on
Clueless, giving the film a well-deserving score of three out of four. Right off the bat, Stack
delightfully embraces the silly, yet entertaining film. He gives recognition to Alicia Silverstone’s
talent and “comic energy” to keep the film moving. Stack introduces the comedy’s idea that
many people become so caught up in themselves that they become completely clueless to what is
truly important in life. Additionally, Stack emphasizes Heckerling’s skill in capturing the nature
of a high school community and describing it as if one was eavesdropping on teenage
conversations themselves. He recognizes Clueless’s vivid portrayal of the 90s which ranges from
the film’s fashion styles to its wonderful soundtrack. Stack’s final consensus of the 1995 hit comedy was that it is just another take on the typical life of a Beverly Hills material girl, yet it is
still an amusing one.
Finally, Washington Post staff writer Joe Brown revealed his thoughts and analysis on
the popular teen flick. His post is introduced by establishing the “sassy” nature of the film by
summarizing the plot. Unlike many other critics, Brown appreciated the shift in Cher’s character.
At first, Cher appears to be a stereotypical, shallow Valley Girl. However, Amy Heckerling
manages to make the audience sympathize with Cher’s character as she undergoes a spiritual
reawakening. Brown admits that choosing Alicia Silverstone for the role as Cher brought the
film more viewers since during the time of the film’s release, Silverstone was MTV’s Girl of the
Moment. Her casting as Cher attracted both drooling boys and obsessed girls who fantasize
about her living her lifestyle. Brown mentions that although parents in teen flicks are often dull
or do not show up in the film at all, it is not the case in this film. He acknowledges Cher’s “shark
like” dad, Mel, played by Dan Hedaya, as a relevant character who delivers some of the best
lines in the film.
Nonetheless, all four critics, despite having their own criticisms, were satisfied with the
overall outcome of 1995 comedy Clueless. The glamorous life of Cher appealed to the audience
as she embarked on a journey to discover that life is much more than just fashion and popularity.
To conclude, Clueless is arguably one of the best teen flicks as its parallels are none other than
one of Jane Austen’s prized literary works, Emma. After almost twenty-five years, the hilariously
amusing film filled with loads of sass and style, won the hearts of the audience and, undoubtedly,
became one of the most beloved comedies of all time.
Brown, Joe. “Clueless.” Review of Clueless. washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post. July
21 1995, https://www.washingtonpost.com/wpsrv/style/longterm/movies/videos/clueless
Ebert, Roger. “Clueless Movie Review & Film Summary (1995): Roger Ebert.” Review of
Clueless. rogerebert.com. July 19, 1995, https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/clueless-1995.
Hinson, Hal. “Clueless.” Review of Clueless. washingtonpost.com, The Washington Post, June
19 1995, https://www.washingtonpost.com/wpsrv/style/longterm/movies/videos/clueless
Stack, Peter. “FILM REVIEW — Clueless Knows a Lot About Teen Spoof,” Review of
Clueless. sfgate.com, San Francisco Chronicle. February 4 2012,
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