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USA 1995
Directed by
Amy Heckerling
93 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Writer/director Amy Heckerling’s transposition of Jane Austen’s 1816 novel, 'Emma', to an upmarket 1990s’ Beverly Hills high school was a hit teen girl comedy that affectionately made fun of so-called “Valley” culture.

Alicia Silverstone plays Cher, a popular 16-year old with a rich lawyer dad (Dan Hedaya) who with her best-friend, Dionne (Stacey Dash who, though you’d never know it, was 28 at the time) live uber-consumerist lives shopping and dreaming pretty dreams about boys and stuff. Determined to do something socially valuable, when gauche new girl, Tai (Brittany Murphy), arrives at the school, Cher takes her under her wing and grooms her for comparable status and style. In the process she discovers that there are more important things in life that being well-dressed. Well, sorta..

I assume Heckerling took the device of the narrator’s voice-over which runs through most of the film from which any connection to early nineteenth century society is completely erased for a continuous and mildly diverting display of snappy outfits and rich kid airheadedness.

Silverstone, who came from a background of TV and Aerosmith videos, does a fine job in the lead although she never had so much success again. The film also provided a big screen calling card for Paul Rudd who went on to a much more successful career . The film is slickly-made and intermittently amusing albeit more likely to appeal to those who saw it in its day rather than anyone coming to it for the first time.

FYI: In 2009 Brittany Murphy added her name to the Hollywood casualty list by dying of a drug overdose. 




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