AWFJ Women On Film – “Easy A” – Review by Susan Granger

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If you bemoan the fact that there hasn’t been a fresh, original and funny high school comedy in a long time, get thee to “Easy A,” which updates Hester Prynne’s dilemma in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” in somewhat the same way Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless” revised Jane Austen’s “Emma” 15 years ago.

“The rumors of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated,” begins Olive (Emma Stone), as she explains how she tried to evade questioning about her weekend plans by her overly-aggressive best-friend, Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka), by concocting a tale that implied that she lost her virginity to a college boy. Unfortunately, this fiction was overheard by judgmental, sanctimonious, ultra-Christian Marianne (Amanda Bynes), who spread the scandalous story all over Ojai High School, causing Olive to be shunned by the snotty cliques. Since her reputation is already ruined, Olive sews a scarlet “A” on her blouse and adopts such a floozy façade that her friend Brandon (Dan Byrd) proposes that she act as if she was having sex with him too so people won’t realize he’s gay. She does – quite publicly, in fact – causing other hapless misfits and nerds to line up to pay for her “pretend” favors in order to boost their social standing. And then she unwittingly becomes involved when the indiscreet guidance counselor wife (Lisa Kudrow) of her favorite teacher (Thomas Hayden Church) is caught in a compromising situation.

What saves Olive’s sanity are her free-spirited, ultra-cool parents, Dill and Rosemary Penderghast (Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson), who have obviously instilled in her the spunky confidence that causes her to triumph in the end.

While capturing the insidious silliness of high school culture, screenwriter Bert V. Royal and director Will Gluck pay tribute to the master-of-this-genre John Hughes, showing a clip of Molly Ringwald from “Sixteen Candles.” And captivating Emma Stone radiates genuine, unpretentious vitality, giving us the real lowdown about the gossip.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Easy A” is a sassy, sharp 7. It’s a cleverly edgy twist on the classic morality fable.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.