Twenty years ago writer-director Amy Heckerling began developing a story that would focus on the popular kids at a California high school. Above all, Heckerling’s desire was to have a central female character who was relentlessly optimistic.
I remember reading Emma, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Those characters: what I gravitated to was how positive they could be. Amy Heckerling
The movie Clueless was the result. From the onset the project was a pure modernization of Jane Austen’s Emma, with Cher Horowitz — played to perfection by Alicia Silverstone — as Emma Woodhouse transported to 20th century Los Angeles.
Clueless was released on July 19, 1995 by Paramount Pictures (after being passed over by several other studios). The movie was modestly budgeted, cast with mostly unknown actors, marketed to the teenage crowd, and while liked by Paramount executives, not expected to be hugely successful.
On the day of release, Clueless became the #1 movie in the country, and generated $10.6 million over the first weekend. Branded one of the summer’s triumphs, Clueless eventually earned $56.6 million in the US and Canada (equates to approximately $105.7 million in today’s market.)
Twenty years later Clueless remains wildly popular (based on data from cable, DVD rentals, streaming services, etc.) and relevant in contemporary culture. Just as Emma remains timeless, speaking to a modern generation, so does Clueless.
A loose reworking of Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless set the template for a mini-genre of teen movies adapted from literary classics that sprung up in the late ’90s… Many of those films tried hard to imitate its ingenious reimagining, though none have quite been able to match it in terms of originality or wit—which is why, even 20 years later, Clueless (and its colorful world of offbeat characters) remains a total Betty. — Aisha Harris, Slate
There are many articles about the movie Clueless, and how well it captured the spirit of Austen’s Emma. Rather than writing a blog on that, I’ve provided links to articles covering the topic better than I could. (at end of this post) Instead, let’s have some fun in remembrance of a delightful movie!
The Clueless Cast
Dionne – Stacey Dash
Tai – Brittany Murphy
Josh – Paul Rudd
Murray – Donald Faison
Travis – Breckin Meyer
Christian – Justin Walker
Elton – Jeremy Sisto
Mr. Hall – Wallace Shawn
Miss Geist – Twink Caplan
Ms. Stoeger – Julie Brown
Remember these lines? What are your favorite Clueless movie quotes?
Cher: “That’s Ren and Stimpy. They’re way existential.” Josh: “Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?” Cher: “No. Why, do I sound like I do?”
Cher: “Isn’t my house classic? The columns date all the way back to 1972.”
Josh: “Hey, in some parts of the universe, maybe not in contempo-casual, but in some parts, it’s considered cool to know what’s going on in the world.” Cher: “Thank you Josh. I SO need lessons from you on how to be cool. Tell me the part about Kenny G again?”
Travis: “I would like to say this. Tardiness is not something you can do on your own. Many, many people contributed to my tardiness. I would like to thank my parents for never giving me a ride to school, the LA city bus driver who took a chance on an unknown kid and last but not least, the wonderful crew from McDonalds who spend hours making those Egg McMuffins, without which I might never be tardy.”
Cher: “Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.”
Dionne: “I have a note from my tennis instructor, and he would prefer it if I didn’t expose myself to any training that might derail his teachings.”
Cher: “Would you call me selfish?” Dionne: “No, not to your face.”
Mel: “You mean to tell me that you argued your way from a C+ to an A-?” Cher: “Totally based on my powers of persuasion. You proud?” Mel: “Honey, I couldn’t be happier than if they were based on real grades.”
Josh: “You want to practice parking?” Cher: “What’s the point? Everywhere you go has valet.”
Cher: “Until mankind is peaceful enough not to have violence on the news, there’s no point in taking it out of shows that need it for entertainment value.”
Amber: “Ms. Stoeger, my plastic surgeon doesn’t want me doing any activity where balls are flying at my nose.” Dionne: “Well, there goes your social life.”
Murray: “Your man Christian is a cake boy!” Cher and Dionne: “A what?” Murray: “He’s a disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand ticket-holding friend of Dorothy, know what I’m saying?” Cher: “Uh-uh, no way, not even!” Murray: “Yes, even. He’s gay!” Dionne: “He does like to shop, Cher. And the boy can dress.”
Tai: “Do you think she’s pretty?” Cher: “No, she’s a full-on Monet.” Tai: “What’s a monet?” Cher: “It’s like a painting, see? From far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big old mess.”
Cher (narrating, after she and Josh kiss): “Well you can guess what happened next …” (The movie cuts to a couple at the altar) Cher: “As if! I am only 16, and this is California, not Kentucky.”
Baldwin – A sexy or beautiful man, just like a Baldwin brother from the 1990s
Buggin’ – From “to bug” – freaking out or overreacting
Ensembly-challenged – Unfashionable
Boy time – The frustratingly long time it takes for boys to respond to something
As if! – That will not happen
Betty: A beautiful, timeless woman. Derived from the 1930s film star Betty Grable, the original pin-up girl.
Stems: Legs, particularly slender and attractive.
Clueless Games. Click each image for website. Share your results!