Probably the surprise film of the year (in that it did much better than anyone could have predicted) and starred the breakout film star of the year in Emma Stone. Nothing groundbreaking, but a solid effort. It is not the first time that a teen film has been made based on a classic piece of literature. This film uses Hester Prynne's The Scarlet Letter as its backdrop. It is a tale of rumours and reputation in the most cutthroat of arenas – high school.
Olive (Emma Stone – The House Bunny, Superbad) is your typical high school girl. So average that she is not really noticed by the guys despite the fact that she is pretty, smart and funny. One white lie to her best friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka – from television's Hellcats) about sleeping with a college boy and her under-the-radar existence changes overnight.
Once the news that Olive is no longer a virgin gets out her reputation changes quickly. It only gets worse when bullied gay classmate Brandon (Dan Byrd – from television's Cougar Town) asks her to pretend to have slept with him so the bullying can stop. Feeling bad for Brandon, Olive agrees. Once this gets out Olive is seen as the slut of the school.
Her classmates, including Rhiannon, are making her life miserable. Worst of the bunch is the pious, ultra religious Marianne (Amanda Bynes – Hairspray, She's the Man). Olive, who has taken to wearing provocative outfits and a red "A" on her chest, keeps up the pretence by exchanging the belief that she has slept with guys for gift cards to different stores. Olive has started her own little cottage industry.
Her favourite teacher (Thomas Hayden Church – Sideways, Spider-Man 3) hearing the rumours and seeing the change in dress begins to worry about her and sends her to see the guidance counsellor (Lisa Kudrow – from television's Friends), who happens to also be his wife, but she is little help as she is distracted by her own problems. And the further the lie goes the less fun Olive is having.
Deciding that she has had enough, Olive, supported by her long-time crush Todd (Penn Badgley – from television's Gossip Girl), puts a plan in motion to return things to normal.
It has been quite a while since there has been a successful teen flick. The reason that this one works is the likeability factor of Emma Stone, the witty script and the fact that it reminded me of the teen films from the 1980s. The similarities come from the use of a high calibre language spouted by an intelligent lead character, someone in a mascot outfit and even the girl and guy riding on a lawnmower. This did not happen by accident; it was obviously a conscious effort on the part of director Will Gluck (Fired Up!) and screenwriter Bert V. Royal (first film). It was risky, but it worked.
The most important reason why it works is that it is witty and intelligent. These are two qualities that have been missing from teen flicks for some time now. Films like Mean Girls, 10 Things I Hate About You and Clueless all used these two qualities successfully and this film follows in their footsteps. It understands that to attract teens to a film you don't have to dumb things down.
Emma Stone demonstrates that she has plenty of potential and talent as a comedic actress. She is smart, funny, charming, and sweet. Basically the role is tailormade for her and she steals the show. Showing that she is willing to take risks with the final dance scene of the film. It could have been a disaster, but it ends up being sexy and entertaining.
Wisely director Will Gluck surrounded his young cast with solid veteran actors like Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci, and Thomas Haden Church. They all turn in solid performances, especially Clarkson and Tucci, who demonstrate great chemistry as Olive's eccentric parents.
-Previews of The Social Network, Burlesque, The House Bunny, Beastly, Eat Pray Love, Tamara Drewe, The Other Guys, How Do You Know, Salt, and Nowhere Boy
-Pop-Up Trivia Track
-The Making of Easy A
-Vocabulary of Hilarity
-The School of Pop Culture: Movies of the Eighties
-Emma Stone Audition Footage