The Scarlet Letter is a novel of high-drama, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and published in 1850. It recounts the fictional plight of young bride Hester Prynne who, in 17th-century Puritan Boston, who commits adultery while her husband is away and is badged by her friends and neighbors with a giant “A” on the bodice of her gown. There’s that self-same uppercase letter worn in the new comedy Easy A, too.
Emma Stone plays Olive, a sardonic high school student who fakes the loss of her virginity and then talks about it via webcast — a sex, lies and YouTube tale, if you will. But Olive’s intentions are honorable. She does it to help the reputation of her closeted gay friend Brandon (Dan Byrd), and to make her classmates take notice of her (as if this Olive were as drab as her name! Stone is perhaps too hot for the role, but she makes it her own quite beautifully as the sordid story unfolds).
Once word of Olive’s easiness gets out, the boys flock to her — she sets them straight on the virgin angle, but angles in on some nice deals for herself along the way. Before she can say “Charge it!” she’s the proud owner of cash, coins, gift certificates and coupons. It’s a sort of prostitution, but without the execution.
Along for the wild rumor-ride are the boy she loves (Penn Badgley), her freewheeling parents (Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson), her meddlesome teachers and various elders (Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell), and of course, the school’s resident sanctimonious bitch (Amanda Bynes). The cast is flawless across the board.
A few things didn’t ring true in the dialogue for me; especially the many references to John Hughes and Judy Blume. I looked up the screenwriter, Bert V. Royal, and saw that he was born in 1977… I’d assumed he was in his 40s, if those are his points of reference. The movie is somewhat contrived and everything ties up far too neatly, but it’s enjoyable overall.
When it comes to the costumes (this is a fashion blog first, after all) I can’t complain but I felt designer Mynka Draper (no relation to Don, I assume!) was just a little too on the nose. Not that Easy A is a subtle comedy anyway, but I think the wardrobe will appear quite dated in the years to come. Especially the egregious use of skinny jeans… when even slim 19-year-olds like Stone can’t pull it off, it’s a trend that needs to end. After her sullied rep is nice and solid, Olive begins to wear her heart on her sleeve (via webcast) and her letter on her bust (As on the bustiers). It’s a cute idea, but after a while: We get it! As the school mascot, the woodchuck costume Badgley is forced to wear during an adorable, out-of-nowhere musical number (and those are the best kind, aren’t they?) is appropriately embarrassing and quite amusing.
In fact, I give Easy A an A for amusing. It’s probably not bound to be a classic, but Stone shines with star power and it’s definitely worth the price of admission for some laughs on the big screen.
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Check out my interviews with Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, and Stanley Tucci at TV-Wire.
Emma and Penn
Emma and Stanley