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'Clueless' returning to LI theaters for 25th anniversary

Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, and Brittany Murphy in

Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, and Brittany Murphy in Paramount Pictures' 1995 movie "Clueless ", directed by Amy Heckerling Credit: Paramount Pictures

Here’s one more reason to get the coronavirus under control: "Clueless," the feel-good hit from 1995, is scheduled to return to Long Island theaters this May.

The film is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with a nationwide re-release May 3, 4 and 6. Local theaters screening the film include the Regal Deer Park & IMAX, Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, Regal Westbury 12 and AMC Stony Brook 17.

"Clueless" features Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz, a pampered and popular high-schooler in Beverly Hills. As Cher tries to turn a "tragically unhip" new girl, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy), into a socially acceptable fashionista, she develops feelings for Josh (Paul Rudd), a socially conscious college student who also happens to be her former stepbrother. Inspired by "Emma," Jane Austen's novel from 1815, "Clueless" was the brainchild of writer-director Amy Heckerling, whose "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" had become an instant classic in 1982. Few, however, could have predicted what a massive hit her new film would be.

“Clueless” became a sleeper hit on the strength of its charming cast (which included Dan Hedaya, Wallace Shawn and Julie Brown in the grown-up roles) and Heckerling’s sparkling script, which poked fun at Southern California rich kids without feeling nasty or preachy. Silverstone’s Cher may be spoiled and shallow (“Did I stumble into some bad lighting?” she wonders when a boy cuts short their date) but she always means well        . Meanwhile, Rudd’s Josh – an update of Austen’s self-possessed Mr. Knightly – exudes the easy charm and quick wit that would soon make him a star.

“Clueless” benefited from fortunate timing. It arrived at the peak of Austenmania during a year that also saw Ang Lee’s “Sense and Sensibility” and the famous BBC adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” that gave the world Colin Firth at Mr. Darcy. “Clueless” would also help launch a trend of literature-inspired teen flicks, including “Cruel Intentions” (based on the French novel “Les Liaisons dangereuses”),  “10 Things I Hate About You” (Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”) and “She’s All That” (George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”).

In subsequent years, “Clueless” became a television show, a series of YA books, a stage musical and – reportedly – another television reboot with a mystery theme that is currently in the works at CBS. The original film remains an irresistible treat, exactly the kind of upbeat rom-com that today’s anxious audiences could use.

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