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Making the Downgrade

Easy A (2010)

Adam Taylor/Screen Gems

“Easy A” purports to be about an unnoticeable high-school girl, Olive (Emma Stone), whose white lie about losing her virginity makes her the target of gossip and ostracism that she wholeheartedly embraces as a means to advance her wealth and notoriety. That premise sounds kind of cool, except that’s not what actually transpires in the final product.

It turns out that “The Scarlet Letter” is a textbook for Olive’s English class, and so she wears a homemade scarlet letter to school like a badge of honor. But “Easy A” doesn’t imaginatively update Nathaniel Hawthorne the way that “Clueless” refashioned Jane Austen.

Screenwriter Bert V. Royal and director Will Gluck are evidently so far removed from the high-school set that they have no clue just how vicious kids can be nowadays. And they certainly have no excuse, given that “Mean Girls” was such a pop-culture milestone six years ago that it propelled the respective careers of Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried. In “Easy A,” the tormentors are merely some puritanical Christian kids who sit around in a prayer circle scheming up ways to convert Olive. Another sign pointing to the staleness of “Easy A” is Olive’s affinity for ’80s John Hughes teen flicks. In present day, those movies would be way before the time of any high-school student.

Olive eventually rises above the rumor mill and comes out smelling like a rose as you’d expect, but not because of her ingenuity. She clears her name by broadcasting a tell-all via her web cam with the assistance of her longtime crush Todd (Penn Badgley), but not before he appears in supplication beneath her window with speakers à la John Cusack in “Say Anything …” None of this is really a spoiler, since the web cast serves as the film’s narration while most of the scenes are in fact flashbacks.

“Easy A” isn’t that don’t-get-mad-get-even sort of revenge fantasy. Especially considering how unwaveringly understanding and supportive Olive’s parents (Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci) are, this film is just pure escapism and doesn’t even hint at any practical solution to the widespread problem of bullying among youths.


Opens on Sept. 17 in the United States and on Oct. 29 in Britain.

Directed by Will Gluck; written by Bert V. Royal; director of photography, Michael Grady; edited by Susan Littenberg; production designer, Marcia Hinds; costumes by Mynka Draper; produced by Zanne Devine and Mr. Gluck; released by Screen Gems. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A. and 15 by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Penn Badgley (Woodchuck Todd), Amanda Bynes (Marianne Bryant), Dan Byrd (Brandon), Thomas Haden Church (Mr. Griffith), Patricia Clarkson (Rosemary), Cam Gigandet (Micah), Lisa Kudrow (Mrs. Griffith), Malcolm McDowell (Principal Gibbons), Aly Michalka (Rhiannon), Stanley Tucci (Dill), Fred Armisen (Pastor) and Emma Stone (Olive Penderghast).


Just for the record, as a recent high school graduate, I have yet to meet a single teenager that does not appreciate John Hughes' films

Thank god somebody has some common sense. I heard about the movie and like you I thought it sounded interesting, but when I saw the trailer I was so disappointed. Just another unrealistic high school sex comedy film that tries to reference John Hughes as if his teen films were great cinema.

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