July 6, 1995ATLANTA, Georgia(CNN)--Meet Cher. She uses a computer to help her choose what to wear to school, and a portable phone to help her keep track of the latest school gossip. She's played by actress Alicia Silverstone (240K AIFF sound), who says, "I think the issues that kids deal with in high school are just like the issues that they're dealing with in 'Clueless.'"
Silverstone leads this cast of relatively unknown young actors as they struggle through life at Beverly Hills High. Says costar Stacey Dash, "It's a farce-amentary, it's like dealing with real issues of the teenage life but not making a big deal about it." Brittany Murphy agrees. "Yeah, it's very much the point in people's lives when they're trying to just desperately latch onto an image and hold on as tight as they can."
If any of this reminds you of 1982's high school hit, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," it's no coincidence. That film's writer/director, Amy Heckerling, also wrote and directed "Clueless." Heckerling remarks, "The comparison is, you know, it's a different tone, it's a different kind of story, that was reflecting what was going on, this is escapism from what's going on."
"Fast Times" did launch several careers, among them that of Sean Penn, whose character, Spicoli, looked and acted a lot like "Clueless's" Breckin Meyer. Meyer says, "It would have been easy to go the way of Spicoli and mimic everything he did, but Travis, he's a lot different, he's a stoner and he likes skating, that's pretty much the similarities. He's got long hair, but he focuses on what he wants, which is Tigh, it's not to get a cool buzz and some tasty waves, to quote Sean Penn."
"Clueless" was shot entirely on location in and around Los Angeles for a very modest $15 million. As Heckerling points out, "You can make two of these movies for what some actors cost, and then to sort of toss us out in the summer of $100 million movies is, you know, I mean, I'm nauseous."
Shallow might describe the characters in this film, but the actors have different goals. For example, Silverstone wants to do Shakespearean plays. "I've been studying Shakspeare in Massachussets, just got back." For now though, Silverstone and the other actors are at Beverly Hills High, where their characters are -- what else? -- clueless.
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