This film was a big surprise. I was expecting a ditzy teen comedy. Instead I found it to be a smart film while being funny and appealing to the teen set. The script gives the actors a lot to work with and it has built up the characters beyond typical one-dimensional characterizations in most teen movies. Each major character has more than one side to them.
Alicia Silverstone is a strong leading lady who pulls off being a Beverly Hills teen with great ease. She could have easily played this character as shallow and superficial. However, her Cher embodies the Emma character from the Jane Austin novel of the same name that this movie was based upon. Silverstone gives Cher a soul who cares about people she takes under her wing. As sage as Cher could appear, Silverstone still made Cher believable as a teenager. The writers also helped in their placement of key lines, which were also funny without being campy.
Stacy Dash as Cher's friend Dionne was an excellent match for Silverstone. Their comic timing is excellent and they enhance each other's performances. Dash is also very funny on her own in the film.
The late Brittany Murphy also shows she could hold her own in one of her first movies with the more seasoned Dash and Silverstone. Murphy shows she could carry out a transformation on film of a complex character. It is a shame she died so young.
Paul Rudd also was early in his film career when he appeared in this film. He already shows the charm and deadpan comedy he has become know for in his appearances on the TV show Friends as well as his many appearances in Judd Apatow films.
The rest of the supporting cast including seasoned character actor Dan Hedaya also give strong performances. Director Amy Heckerling does an excellent job of blending these performances and not letting any one over power another. She gives this film a true ensemble feel to it albeit with the focus on Silverstone's character.
Heckerling and company also blended the colors in a way to get your attention in each scene, even in the dark bedroom of Cher's parents. The colors always came out at the audience without being overpowering.
I give this film a ten out of ten stars because it was funny and entertaining without resorting to being stupid. This film was also a treat for the eyes, even for those of us not really into fashion.
I do think this film will be enjoyed by a wide variety of audiences. It is probably not for children under eight as they will probably not understand some of the jokes and some of the references.
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