"Clueless" (PG-13), a satire about a rich Beverly Hills teen-ager, is funny. It could have been a better film for adolescents if sex at sixteen, and smoking a little marijuana at a party, was not made to look "cool." Cher (Alicia Silverstone) lives with her lawyer father (Dan Hedaya). Her mother died years before from a routine liposuction. Cher is the ultimate Beverly Hills High girl-beautiful, popular and stylish. She has her own room, a huge closet filled with designer clothes, multiple jars of make-up, a cellular phone, a music system, and a new car. She shops on Rodeo Drive and has her own private masseuse. She even gets good grades, after she convinces her teachers to change the C's to A's.
When Cher's ex-step brother Josh (Paul Rudd) accuses her of being selfish, she decides to concentrate on helping others. She and her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash) help the new "nerdy" girl at school, Tai (Brittany Murphy) with a make-over and a plan to get a boyfriend. She also promotes a romantic relationship between two lonely teachers, anticipating that it will make them happier people who, coincidentally, will give her less homework and higher grades. As for boys, Cher is not interested in the sloppily dressed, unsophisticated variety at high school. She is still a virgin, although most of those around her are not. Tai is sexually experienced, and Dionne is a "technical" virgin who gives that up when she realizes that her boyfriend cares about her. Predictably, Cher gets her chance at romance before the film ends.
"Clueless" is a satire on the superficial and materialistic world as reflected by the privileged California teen-ager. Even Cher's father encourages her superficiality. When she tells him that she talked her teachers into raising the grades on her report card, he says, "I couldn't be happier if they were based on real grades." Josh helps Cher reject the superficial and brings her toward more worthy goals. Of course, that is a good message to the adolescent audience, but all those possessions still look appealing. They just might give our teen-agers more things to want.
The more troubling aspect to "Clueless" is that it seems normal and appropriate to lose one's virginity at age 15 or 16 and to smoke marijuana. Cher is the last one of her friends to remain a virgin. Tai insults her by saying, "You are a virgin who can't drive." As the film ends, Cher finds love and asks the audience to guess what will happen next. Although the film portrays drug addiction as wrong, Cher is shown smoking marijuana at a party. She only takes a few puffs and does not get high. She does it because others are smoking, and she has no negative reactions to it.
Since Cher is such an attractive role model for adolescent girls, they might get the impression that being a 16 year-old virgin is old-fashioned and smoking marijuana is all right. Parents can help their teen-agers by discussing these issues with them. There are two instances of violence in this film. Cher is robbed by gunpoint, and Tai is dangled over a high shopping mall balcony by several teen-age gang members. Both girls are frightened by the incidents, but neither is hurt. In fact, in this satire, Tai becomes a celebrity at her school because of the violent act.
"Clueless" will make you laugh, and Alicia Silverstone is terrific as Cher. It is unfortunate that such an entertaining movie has scenes which could be negatively interpreted by adolescents.
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