Clueless Study Guide

Clueless is a coming-of-age teen film loosely based on Jane Austen's classic novel Emma written and directed by Amy Heckerling. It stars Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Brittany Murphy, Stacey Dash, and Breckin Meyer. The film is set in Beverly Hills, and is centered around fashion-obsessed high schooler, Cher Horowitz, and her attempts to matchmake and do good in her community. During its 40-day filming schedule, writer/director Amy Heckerling and producer Scott Rudin sat in on classes at Beverly Hills High School to get a feel for student culture. Herb Hall, the real-life drama teacher at the school, plays the principal in the film.

Clueless was released in 1995 and became the year's sleeper hit, making a star out of a largely unknown Alicia Silverstone. It was the number one film of the day of its release. The film received critical acclaim, lauded as an intelligent satire and imaginative reworking of the plot of Emma. The script is full of topical euphemisms and 90s slang, and it is considered archetypal of a certain era and place. Since its release it has developed a cult following, helping to set in motion a surge of teen movies through the 1990s and early 2000s.

The film remains an iconic cult film in American pop culture, showing its influence in fashion, film, and music. Its release perfectly coincided with the "MTV generation," and its influence has indeed outlasted the 90s. In an article about the film in Vanity Fair, Jen Chaney writes, "Clueless, then, isn’t merely a touchstone for the 90s generation. It’s a teen movie that continues to be passed from one generation to the next and is just timeless enough for every generation to think it’s speaking directly to them."