Clueless is a 1995 teen comedy from Amy Heckerling, starring Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Stacey Dash and the late Brittany Murphy.Set in Beverly Hills and focusing on spoiled, shallow, but essentially good hearted teenager Cher Horowitz. It was actually an unofficial updating of Jane Austen's Emma, adding funny, but affectionate, jabs at early '90s teen culture, high school, and valley girls (so, basically, doing exactly what Emma did, only in the 1990s instead of the 1810s). Introduced a fresh wave of California slang across the world.Inspired a TV adaptation, with many of the same actors, that ran for three seasons, first on ABC and later on UPN, starting off with many of the same plot-lines as the movie but eventually going off into its own direction.As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki and at IMDB.
"Sex. Tropes. Popularity. Is there a problem here? Examples everywhere":
Also Sprach Zarathustra: Cher's phone serves as The Monolith while this plays in the background. Cher explains that boys calling when they say they would is extremely rare, so she is appropriately surprised and impressed when Christian does call the following day.
Bratty Teenage Daughter: Cher Horowitz is a good example of the smarter (if still shallow and naive) version and is also unusual in being the actual protagonist. She's also sweeter and more considerate than the usual example in several ways, in that she's constantly fretting about her father's stress levels and need to have a proper breakfast, and reaches out to make friends with the awkward and unfashionable newcomer to the school (for pretty shallow reasons at the time, but still).
Cultured Badass: Christian, a Rat Pack lover, knowledgeable about the arts, and has a taste for Billie Holiday and vintage films... but you do anything so stupid that could threaten someone else's safety, he won't be afraid to confront you with the threat of a physical throw-down.
Dawson Casting: Silverstone and Murphy are almost young enough to pull off their roles, but they're the youngest. The oldest is 29-year-old Stacey Dash as Dionne; she would carry over into the spin-off series, until she was 33.
Deadpan Snarker: Josh. Cher also has her moments, especially when she's interacting with him.
The Ditz: Tai Fraiser's amiable airhead. To a lesser extent Cher herself — she is not actually unintelligent as such, but she certainly isn't a deep thinker or especially perceptive. Cher has a sharp mind (unlike Tai); she just doesn't really use it all time.
She's not exactly up on her geography either, as this exchange while she and Josh are watching a news report about war in Bosnia demonstrates.
Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Cher's feather boa on the movie cover, and an outfit in the movie that her cell phone clashes with.
Fourth Date Marriage: Subverted. The scene where Cher and Josh admit their feelings for each other and kiss is immediately followed by a wedding scene... at which point, Cher's voice-over points out how gross it is for everyone to assume that it's her getting married, seeing as she's only sixteen and has only been going out with Josh for a few months by that point. The wedding is actually for the teachers she set up earlier in the movie.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Cher's report card. The comment from her (male) geometry teacher is "Nice shapes".
Amber: I'm not supposed to indulge in any activity where balls fly at my nose.
Dionne: There goes your social life..
Good Bad Girl: Most everyone, but especially Cher. The primary theme of the movie comes down to it being possible to be vapid, shallow and even a little naughty (Cher is shown drinking and smoking a little at a party) while still having a good heart with good intentions.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mel Horowitz is a feared litigation attorney who terrifies everyone around him with his blunt manner, but he clearly loves Cher and is a devoted father to her and Josh (see Parental Abandonment below).
The Makeover: Two: one for Tai, and one for Cher after she tries to smarten up.
Missing Mom: Cher's mother died during a freak complication in a routine liposuction. Granted, Cher doesn't really remember her that much, although she does pretend she's watching over her and greets the large picture of her at the front door. Josh also teases her about this being her motive for wanting to make over Tai and treat her like one of her dolls. There is one surprisingly touching scene where, when she's insecure that she isn't a good person, her father tells her he hasn't seen such good-doing since her mother, which seems to greatly comfort her.
The Nineties: An odd but valid example — the whole movie seems really dated looking back, but at the time it was made, nobody dressed or talked like the characters in Clueless. The movie influenced the 90s, not the other way around.
It should be noted that some of the clothing, specifically the looks sported by the teen guys, is still relevant and prevalent as of The New Tens.
Not Blood Siblings: Step-siblings in this case — or to be more specific, ex-step-siblings.
Oblivious to Love - Cher is adamant about setting Tai up with Elton, despite the fact that Elton clearly has a thing for her instead. If not just how he looks at her, how about how he's always grabbing her from behind & kissing her cheeks whenever he gets the chance. Hello!
Played with, however, in that it's not so much 'love' that Cher is oblivious to but 'lust' — it's ultimately made pretty clear that Elton doesn't really want much more than to get into Cher's pants.
Mel Horowitz: Anything happens to my daughter, I have a .45 and a shovel. I doubt anyone would miss you.
Parental Abandonment: Subverted with Josh, however; despite being divorced from his mother and having no blood relation, Mel makes a point of being a devoted father to him.
Mel Horowitz: You divorce wives, not children.
Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: When Tai expresses a crush on Josh and seeing Cher's disapproval of it she eventually snaps and says "Why should I take advice from you? You're a virgin who can't drive." It's downplayed because Cher was obviously hurt and Tai immediately regrets saying that and they reconcile a few scenes later.
Politically Motivated Teacher: Miss Geist, who wants to inspire her students to save the environment and aid disaster victims. She's portrayed as dorky but likeable.
Reconstruction: It's difficult to imagine now but the whole Teen Movie genre was moribund in the early 90's; Clueless was the first commercial and critical success in many years, perhaps because it was such an exuberant return to the optimism of the 80's genre films.
Setting Update: Of Emma. Most of the plot stays the same, except it gets rid of some of the Values Dissonance of the Jane Austen novel, such as the marriage focus (having the Frank Churchill stand-in, Christian, turn out to be gay rather than secretly engaged, for example) and the class issues. Cher lampshades the former difference when her They Do moment and kiss-fest with Josh flips straight to a wedding where she says "Ew, no, I'm only 16! As if!" and reveals it to be Miss Geist and Mr Hall's wedding.
Spoiled Sweet: Cher, definitely. Despite being rich, she is genuinely sweet to people and usually motivated by good feelings.
Status Cell Phone: The main characters all having mobile phones despite being in high school was intended as a joke about how spoilt and well-off they were. Modern viewers tend not to understand why a high school student with a mobile phone is supposed to be funny.
Stern Teacher: Mr Hall is the only teacher Cher can't sweet-talk or 'negotiate' her grades with, and is a bit long-suffering with the eccentricities and antics of his students, but is a fairly reasonable fellow otherwise (not least since Cher probably didn't entirely deserve getting her grades adjusted). He certainly lightens up considerably after being (unwittingly) set up with Miss Geist.
Straight Gay: Subverted. Christian does indeed have some Camp Gay tendencies but Cher is too na´ve to realise. Her father doesn't appear to notice either, thinking him instead a Sinatra-wannabe. Must be a California thing. Murray's Gaydar is very sharp though.
Technical Virgin: Dionne claims to be this and that she satisfies Murray in other ways. The final episode of the series confirms that she still is.
Technology Marches On: Modern viewers might miss the fact that Cher and her friends all having cell phones is meant to be a joke — a sign of how rich and spoiled these teenagers are. Nowadays, when every teen has at least one cell phone, the only thing that seems odd is how clunky the ones in the movie look.
Theme Naming: Cher and her friend Dionne share first names with '70s singers, apparently so the leading male character could be called Elton, like his counterpart in Emma.
Unintentional Period Piece: This movie screams mid-nineties. Fortunately, thanks to good writing and genuinely funny humor, the movie is still worth watching even today.
Mythology Gag/Brick Joke: In an early Cher voiceover in the movie, she says that she and Dionne were "both named for famous singers who now do infomercials." The first season episode "I Got You Babe" is, of course, named for a famous Sonny and Cher song, and brings it all full circle, since the plot centers around Cher falling for a college student named...Sonny.
Nice Job Breaking It, Heroine: Several episodes involve Cher attempting to make people's lives better in some way and failing, or, as in "Secrets and Lies," the first Season Finale, tells someone an unpleasant fact that creates trouble.
The Other Darrin: About half the characters from the movie, most notably Cher herself, but also the rest of the Horowitz family. In fact, Mel Horowitz is subject to this again after the show's first season, meaning that three actors played him in the span of four years.