A modern teen update of the classic Jane Austen novel Emma, Clueless puts a novel spin on the time-honored "it's what's inside that counts" tale. Unlike most high-school fare, the film rarely relies on mean-spiritedness for its humor and never resorts to conventional sex-and-beer hijinks. The laughs are spot-on, punctuated by the script's outrageous glossary of teen lingo and its appropriately over-the-top depiction of high-school stereotypes. In a star-making role, Alicia Silverstone is perfect as the spoiled, nakedly manipulative Cher, an L.A. rich kid who finds her soul. As written and directed by Amy Heckerling -- who helmed the similarly bright Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) -- Clueless is less concerned with plot than with savvy one-liners and telling observations on Cher's bizarre world of teen materialism. The film also deserves credit for being one of the first of a spate of candy-colored, teen-oriented retellings of classic stories, including William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1996) and Cruel Intentions (1999).
by Matthew Doberman review