Clueless (film)

Clueless (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Amy Heckerling
Produced by Scott Rudin
Robert Lawrence
Twink Caplan
Adam Schroeder
Barry M. Berg
Written by Amy Heckerling
Starring Alicia Silverstone
Stacey Dash
Brittany Murphy
Paul Rudd
Donald Faison
Breckin Meyer
Dan Hedaya
Music by David Kitay
Cinematography Bill Pope
Editing by Debra Chiate
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) July 19, 1995 (1995-07-19)
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20,000,000
Box office $56,631,572

Clueless is a 1995 American comedy film loosely based on Jane Austen's 1815 novel, Emma. It is set in Beverly Hills and a nearby high school. It was written and directed by Amy Heckerling and produced by Scott Rudin. The film was released in the United States on July 19, 1995. The film stars Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, and Brittany Murphy.

The film spun off a television show and a series of books.



The film tells the story of Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), a good-natured but superficial girl. Cher is attractive, popular, and extremely wealthy. At a few months shy of sixteen, she has risen to the top of the high school social scene and is happy and self-assured in her insular, fashion-obsessed world. She lives in a Beverly Hills mansion with her father (Dan Hedaya), a ferocious $500-an-hour litigator; her mother has long since died, having succumbed to complications while undergoing liposuction. Cher's best friend is Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash), who is also rich, pretty, and hip, and understands what it's like to be envied.

Among the few people to find much fault with Cher is Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd), her socially conscious ex-stepbrother who visits during a break from college. Josh and Cher spar continually but without malice; she refers to him as "granola breath" and mocks his scruffy idealism, while he teases her for being selfish, vain, and superficial, and says that her only direction in life is "toward the mall."

Illustrating that Cher's selfishness is usually innocent and relatively harmless, Cher plays matchmaker for two lonely, nerdy, hard-grading teachers, Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) and Miss Geist (Twink Caplan). She achieves her original purpose – to make them relax their grading standards so she can renegotiate a bad report card – but when she sees their newfound happiness, she realizes she likes doing good deeds. Cher now decides that the ultimate way she can give back to the community would be to "adopt" a "tragically unhip" new girl at school, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy). Cher and Dionne give Tai a makeover and initiate her into the mysteries of popularity. Cher also tries to extinguish the strong mutual attraction between Tai and Travis (Breckin Meyer), an amiable skateboarding slacker, and to steer her toward Elton (Jeremy Sisto), a rich snob.

Her second matchmaking scheme backfires when Elton rejects Tai and makes a play for Cher. Matters worsen, however, when Cher's "project" works a bit too well and Tai's popularity begins to surpass Cher's, especially after Tai has a "near-death" adventure at the mall that helps to skyrocket her to fame at school. Other classmates, including Dionne and Cher's longtime rival, Amber (Elisa Donovan), soon gravitate toward Tai, and Cher finds herself demoted from queen to courtier at high school.

Meanwhile, Cher has a couple of romantic mishaps with boys at school. The first involves Elton; the next concerns Christian (Justin Walker), a handsome classmate with great fashion sense who turns out to be gay. Cher naively and repeatedly fails to recognize Christian's homosexual tendencies, and tries unsuccessfully to seduce him while they are alone one night watching Spartacus. The next day, Dionne's boyfriend, Murray (Donald Faison), roars with laughter, which makes Cher's mistake clear to her at last.

Events reach a crisis after Cher fails her driver's test and can't "renegotiate" the result. When Cher goes home, crushed, Tai confides that she's taken a fancy to Josh and wants Cher to help her "get" him. Cher says she doesn't think Josh is right for her, and they quarrel. Cher, left all alone, begins to think she has created a monster in her own image. Feeling "totally clueless", she reflects on her priorities and her repeated failures to understand or appreciate the people in her life. Most of all, she keeps thinking about Josh and Tai, and wonders why she cares so much.

After much soul-searching (which includes a one-woman shopping spree around various Beverly Hills boutiques), Cher discovers she has fallen in love with Josh. She begins making awkward but sincere efforts to live a more useful life, even captaining the school's Pismo Beach disaster relief effort. A scene near the end of the film finds Cher and Josh stumbling over how to admit their mutual feelings for each other, finally culminating in a tender kiss on the stairs of her home.

The film has a happy Hollywood ending for Cher: Mr. Hall and Miss Geist get married; her friendships with Tai and Dionne are reaffirmed; Tai and Travis are in love; and, in Josh's arms, she too has now finally found love.

Cast of characters

The film's central characters are:

  • Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz: A spoiled but sweet Valley Girl type – though she actually lives in Beverly Hills. Living in a mansion, waited on by servants, and flaunting her wealth with fashion, she's the undisputed queen of Bronson Alcott High School. Cher is also tough and clever, like her father Mel. Cher convinces two of her teachers that each is a secret admirer of the other, negotiating her way from a C+ average to an A- average. Cher doesn’t have a regular boyfriend and she describes finding a boyfriend in high school as "being as useless as looking for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie". Her surname was "Hamilton" on her report card, as was her father's when he tosses aside a piece of mail.
  • Stacey Dash as Dionne Davenport: Cher’s best friend. Both she and Cher are rich and beautiful, but caring. Cher uses Dionne as her number one fashion critic. Dionne and boyfriend Murray (played by Donald Faison) have an extremely tumultuous relationship and are often quarreling (an inversion of the idealized relationship between Austen's Isabella and John Knightley). They undergo spats about Murray shaving his head and Dionne finding “cheap polyester hair” in the backseat of his car, but they also bond over Dionne’s first driving experience on the freeway, inspiring a wistful admiration in Cher.
  • Brittany Murphy as Tai Fraiser: The ugly duckling turned into the beautiful swan. Cher and Dionne decide to give her a makeover. With a change of hair, makeup and clothes, Tai gains confidence and a sense of style. Originally Tai fell for skater Travis (Breckin Meyer), but Cher tried to set up Tai with “it boy” Elton to boost her popularity. After a “near-death experience” at the mall, Tai obtains an overly confident attitude that ultimately poses a threat to Cher's social status. By the end of the film, Tai gains back Cher's respect and friendship and begins to date Travis. This was Murphy's first major film role.
  • Paul Rudd as Josh Lucas: Cher's ex-stepbrother, as Mel had been married to Josh's mother five years earlier. Josh has ambitions to be a lawyer (his focus is environmental law) and throughout the film routinely visits Cher and her father at their house. Josh has a residence close to his classes, but claims that being with Mel is a "great learning experience". Throughout the film, Josh teases Cher, but at the same time shows his caring and concern for her.
  • Dan Hedaya as Mel Horowitz: This litigator is always working on big cases in Beverly Hills, where he lives with his teenage daughter Cher and her stepbrother Josh. Despite being divorced from Josh's mother, he tells his daughter "You divorce wives, not children" and is very protective over Cher, telling Christian: "If anything happens to my daughter, I've got a .45 and a shovel. I doubt anybody would miss you."
  • Elisa Donovan as Amber Mariens: A popular spoiled brat, but is despised by Cher and Dionne. She is in constant competition with Cher when it comes to style, popularity, and boys. Cher dubs her a "Monet" (just like the painting, "from far away it's okay, but up close it's a big old mess.")
  • Justin Walker as Christian Stovitz: Cher's love interest, a boy whose parents are divorced; he alternates semesters in Chicago and Beverly Hills (Cher believes this "is a travesty on the part of the legal profession"). To catch Christian's attention, Cher sends herself flowers, candies, and love notes. Christian finally attends a party with Cher. Cher plans a big night to finally "do it" with Christian, but he ignores her advances. When later discussing the events with Dionne and Murray, it becomes evident that Christian might be gay. Despite this, Cher and Christian remain good friends and shopping buddies.
Other characters


The film had a 40-day filming schedule. Producers sat in on classes at Beverly Hills High School to get a feel for the student culture. Herb Hall, the real drama teacher at Beverly Hills High School, played the principal in the film. Many scenes were filmed in Costa Mesa and Beverly Hills with most neighborhood scenes filmed in Scottsdale, Arizona. Scenes depicting the high school campus, including the tennis courts, the outdoor cafeteria, the quad, and various classrooms were filmed at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Silverstone stated that she "always felt connected to [Murphy] as [they] shared a very special experience in [their] lives together".[1] Following Murphy's death, Silverstone reported in an interview: "I loved working with Brittany. She was so talented, so warm, and so sweet."[1]

Home media

The first DVD release was on October 19, 1999; the special features only included 2 theatrical trailers.

The film was put in many other teen films, including She's the Man, Mean Girls, and Save the Last Dance.

Special "Whatever!" edition

A special Whatever! edition DVD was released on August 30, 2005. The DVD features featurettes and cast interviews, which were all used to celebrate the film's 10-year anniversary. The features on the DVD included:

  • The Class of '95 – A look at the cast
  • Creative Writing – Amy Heckerling talks about the script
  • Fashion 101 – How filmmakers invented the trendsetting style of Clueless
  • Language Arts – The director and cast members give facts on the groundbreaking slang, and how Clueless revived the Valspeak slang
  • Suck and Blow – How to play the game depicted in the Sun Valley party scene
  • Driver's Ed
  • We're History – Stories from cast and crew of Clueless
  • Two theatrical trailers


The film became a surprise sleeper hit of 1995, grossing well over $11 million on its opening weekend #2 behind Apollo 13, and it eventually grossed $55 million during its theatrical run. It was the 32nd highest-grossing film of 1995 and brought the then-largely unknown actress Alicia Silverstone to national and international attention.

In 2008, Entertainment Weekly selected Clueless as one of the "New Classics", a list of 100 released between 1983 and 2008,[2] Clueless was ranked 42nd.[3] In 2008 Entertainment Weekly named it the 19th best comedy of the past 25 years.[4]


  1. "Kids in America" (The Muffs) – 3:18
  2. "Shake Some Action" (David Lowery) – 4:25
  3. "The Ghost in You" (Counting Crows) – 3:30
  4. "Here" (Squirmel Mix) (Luscious Jackson) – 3:33
  5. "All the Young Dudes" (World Party) – 4:00
  6. "Fake Plastic Trees [Acoustic Version]" (Radiohead) – 4:45
  7. "Change" (Lightning Seeds) – 4:01
  8. "Need You Around" (Smoking Popes) – 3:42
  9. "Mullet Head" (Beastie Boys) – 2:53
  10. "Where'd You Go?" (The Mighty Mighty Bosstones) – 3:16
  11. "Rollin' With My Homies" (Coolio) – 4:06
  12. "Alright" (Supergrass) – 3:01
  13. "My Forgotten Favorite" (Velocity Girl) – 3:49
  14. "Supermodel" (Jill Sobule) – 3:07



The following year, the producers decided to create a spinoff television series which followed the continuing adventures of Cher and her friends. Several cast members from the film went on to star in the TV program, with the notable exceptions of Alicia Silverstone (who went on to sign a film deal with Columbia-TriStar worth $10 million) and Paul Rudd. Silverstone was replaced in the series with actress Rachel Blanchard.


A collection of books was also published after the release of the film by Simon Spotlight Entertainment publishing company from 1995-1999. These books were published as paperbacks and aimed at young adult readers.

See also


External links

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