27 October 2010

I went to see "Easy A" last weekend and movie wasteland or no movie wasteland I enjoyed it more than I expected.

A tidbit for the reading-oriented: The plot is a retelling or reframing of THE SCARLET LETTER -- the Hester Prynne figure being Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone), whose opening transgression is telling her best friend she slept with a (fictional) date. Olive's class in school is reading THE SCARLET LETTER and there's a running joke about her fellow students watching the movie instead of reading the book. Olive jokes to the camera that if viewers are not going to read the book they should rent "the old version" -- I think the 1926 Lillian Gish version, judging by clips we see in "Easy A" -- and not the Demi Moore adaptation because it deviates too much from the book. Later, her English teacher (Thomas Haden Church, who is very funny and underused) jokes about the number of papers he's getting about how Hester Prynne takes a lot of baths -- apparently a feature of the Moore version (really?), although he knows and gets Olive to admit that she actually read the book.

I haven't seen the 1995 Roland Joffé version they're talking about, but I knew it won a couple of Razzies and, given that I wasn't suggested or made to watch it when we studied THE SCARLET LETTER, suspected it might not be of the best caliber. There's also a case file on it in Nathan Rabin's new book MY YEAR OF FLOPS (if I may so shamelessly plug) in which he calls it a "beautiful, idiotic dream" and writes, "It seems apt that a novel about infidelity should inspire one of the least faithful literary adaptations in American film."

You'd think high school cheating would have evolved by now from the hoary days of my youth. (The popularity of Cliff's Notes, for example, given how obvious they look, has been always a mystery to me... as the sort of smug A student who would never use them.) At the rate of adaptation we're on today, English teachers of the future should hope every movie made from a book for the next 30 years is unfaithful enough to prompt such blunders as Olive's classmates are prone. But that's a terrifying future; in adaptation I always hope, as this blog's string of disappointed movie reviews can testify. It won't stop the cheaters anyway; they'll only find another workaround.


8yearoldsdude said...

cheating is all about teh interwebs nowadays.

but more importantly Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show? It looks so much like mean girls I can't get over it.

Ellen said...

Well, it is a fair amount like "Mean Girls" -- I would say darker/ more cynical, if anything. I'd probably give it a grade of Weekend Matinee/High Priority Rental.

I went in with moderate to low expectations and the desire to support a movie toplined by a woman not called "Conviction." But I thought it was really funny and Emma Stone was extremely fun to watch. I thought in a sense it was a throwback to '80s and '90s teen comedies (there's an explicit reference to John Hughes, for example) but was more clever than raunchy.