Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone)
An updated version of Jane Austen’s Emma, transplanted to a Beverly Hills high school, Silverstone’s Cher is defies movie stereotypes in that she’s a beautiful, privileged, popular girl who isn’t out to make everyone else’s lives miserable. In fact, she thinks of herself as benevolent and charitable – fixing up lonely teachers with each other, making over the rough-edged Tai (Brittany Murphy) into a popular Mini-Me of herself. If only annoying ex-stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd) weren’t around to point out how self-serving and shallow her motives truly are.
Still, Cher is smart, generous enough to find delight in the happiness of others, assertive and authoritative without being bossy, impeccably stylish, and far too mature to have much romantic interest in high school boys. She’d still be in danger of coming off as a posh snob if it weren’t for the charming and seemingly effortless performance by Silverstone, who achieved such a perfect fusion of actress and role that she’s never been able to recapture the magic in the 18 years since. Still, there’s nothing wrong with being remembered as the quintessential teen heroine of the 1990s.