Clueless opened theatrically in 1,653 theaters on July 21, 1995.
The film became a surprise sleeper hit of 1995, grossing $10,612,443 on its opening weekend, ranking second behind Apollo 13. The film grossed $56,631,572 during its theatrical run, becoming the 32nd highest-grossing film of 1995 and bringing the then-largely-unknown Silverstone to international attention. It also developed a strong cult following after its release.
The film was also well received by critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 81% based on reviews from 57 critics and judged it "Certified Fresh", with the site's consensus stating, "A funny and clever reshaping of Emma, Clueless offers a soft satire that pokes as much fun at teen films as it does at the Beverly Hills glitterati." On Metacritic, the film has a 68 out of 100 rating based on 18 reviews, indicating "generally positive reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars. Janet Maslin of The New York Times notes "Even if Clueless runs out of gas before it's over, most of it is as eye-catching and cheery as its star." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film four stars, contrasting it to the more adult-oriented film about teenagers released around the same time, Kids, stating "The materialism in Clueless is almost as scary as the hopelessness in Kids."
In 2008, Entertainment Weekly selected Clueless as one of the "New Classics," a list of 100 released between 1983 and 2008, Clueless was ranked 42nd.
In 2008, Entertainment Weekly named it the 19th best comedy of the past 25 years.
American Film Institute recognition:
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "As if!" - Nominated