by Rick Grant
This is a teen theme film that is driven by a cleverly written script by Bert V. Royal with Will Cluck as director/producer. Normally, these High School films are banal derivative, and predictable. This film is an exception to the norm.
The story revolves around Olive (Emma Stone) who feels like she’s invisible to her class mates. Her best friend, Marianne (Amanda Bynes) is identified by her bodacious breasts, which gets her plenty of attention from the boys. They attend a Christian school with the usual coterie of Jesus freaks.
It just so happens that Olive is studying “The Scarlett Letter” in Mr. Griffith’s (Thomas Haden Church) English class. The story of the fallen woman in a Puritan community who forced to wear an A on her dress gives Olive an idea. She could pretend that she slept around by faking a sex scene with a gay guy who wants her to make him seem like a stud to eliminate his torment.
It’s a bonehead move, and quickly backfires on her. She starts wearing provocative outfits and the letter A on her blouse. Now, she gets more attention than she wants as all the guys start hitting on her and the nerds want her to fake sex with them so they can be popular.
Olive’s slut act causes her problems with the principal and she is sent to the guidance counselor, Mrs. Griffith (yes the English teacher’s wife) played by Lisa Kudrow.
At home, Olive lives with her ex-hippie parents (Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci) who want so much to be understanding of her teenage angst. To let their freak flag fly, they adopted a little black boy, who seems oblivious to what’s going on inside the family. Olive’s parents notice her new daring wardrobe, but just give her space to sort it all out herself.
The truth is: Olive’s “Letter A” stunt wasn’t necessary. Her paranoia was merely an illusion that has forced her to think of a way to quell the rumors. She starts a webcam show that also serves as her narration of the film.
Meanwhile, her male friend Todd (Penn Badgley) stays in the background until a crucial time when he and Olive both realize they have a romantic relationship. There are other clever twists written into the script that make it different from every other cliche’ coming of age film.
It turns out that Mrs. Griffith has a secrete and other bizarre events happen to help Olive wiggle out of her ill-conceived stunt.
The film alludes to the problem of bullying in High Schools but offers nothing new as a remedy, which would have come off as preachy. Indeed, real life is nothing like high school. For Olive, she struggled through it the best she could. At least she had supportive parents who let her work out her own problems. In the end, she learned an important life lesson–never pretend to be something you’re not.
Easy A Movie Review
by Rick Grant