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Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010 10:32 am

Easy A doesn’t make the grade

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I had high hopes for Easy A. The time seems right to update The Scarlet Letter, what with hypocrisy running rampant in our “It’s Not My Fault” era. Setting it in a high school also seems intriguing as who’s more morally confused than teens as they attempt to gain and maintain a degree of social status, doing anything, including lying, to put on a good face. But alas, director Will Gluck and writer Bret Royal muck up the works by opting for cheap laughs and improbable plotting instead of pointed satire and solid storytelling.

Though she seems smart enough to stay above the social fray, Olive (Emma Stone) falls victim to the allure of being popular and lies to her friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) about losing her virginity to a college student. Her popularity takes a little bump and reasoning that having told one white lie another won’t hurt, she agrees to help bullied homosexual Brandon (Dan Byrd) by saying he lost his virginity to her. Soon, other outcasts approach Olive for a similar service, which she agrees to and before you know it, her reputation is in tatters. To add insult to injury, she finds herself targeted by Marianne (Amanda Bynnes), a fanatical Christian who wants her expelled.

From the start the film reeks a bit of desperation, as if it’s trying too hard to be liked, much like many of its characters. Olive’s feature-length confession, a 4th-wall breaking running monologue, is an awkward device that never seems sincere, while the turns the plot takes, particularly one involving a counselor and a student, are simply too much to swallow. While the film’s theme about glass houses and stones creeps through at times, it winds up playing second fiddle to Gluck’s crass attempts to generate laughs. The message is obscured by mayhem here as Easy A’s moral roots are undercut by its attempts to be one of the cinematic crowd.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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