Friday, August 27, 2010


"He brought a knife to school. It's just a butter knife,
but you know what they say, it's a gateway knife."
-Lisa Kudrow in EASY A

I had the pleasure to screen EASY A starring Emma Stone, Stanley Tucci, Lisa Kudrow, Amanda Bynes, and Penn Badgley on August 26th, weeks before it's theatrical release. Then, with a Q&A with writer Burt V. Royal was afforded an opportunity to hear first hand about the making of this film.

EASY A is an enjoyable teen comedy about a girl (Emma Stone) who through some lies tries to amp up her non-existent reputation. However, in this film which is loosely, LOOSELY, based on Hawthorne's classic piece of romantic literature, THE SCARLET LETTER, Stone ends up with a branded scarlet "A" on her chest. Soon her lies and reputation snowball out of control. And she is left alone to deal with the aftermath. But, she rises above it and finds a way to regain control of her life. Awww.

Yes, it ends in a happy, wrapped up sort of way, but the real surprise, is how clever it can be. The writing itself is typical teenage girl-fare, but it is the intertextuality that really makes this movie soar. Intertextuality (the use of references from other films within a film) is blatant in this film. John Hughes serves as the godfather of the piece in that every major 1980's teen movie is highlighted. And with his death in 2009, this movie serves as a memorial to the late and great, as it is doubtful that the any of the current generation of directors could say that they were not influenced by him. In fact, many say that the 1980's was when the teen film really took off. And EASY A no doubt sees those films as predecessors to itself. With numerous references to 16 CANDLES, FERRIS BUELLER, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, and SAY ANYTHING, any movie buff will have fun finding these clues embedded into EASY A.

Some may say that the ending when the couple ride off into the proverbial sunset is too cliche, I agree, but must add that that is the point. The movie sets up these other movie references and finally has a major payout at the end. The whole point of those many references is for that last moment and while it is cliche, it pokes a bit of fun at it, too.

Royal (the writer) was a joy to listen to as he described the two-year process to make this film. This is his first feature that made its way to the silver screen, though his play, DOG SEES GOD (about the Peanuts gang all grown up) has won numerous awards. He never planned for this to be an adaptation to THE SCARLET LETTER, but merely wanted that to be the jumping off point. He looks forward to using other pieces of literature to inspire films. Best of all, he speaks highly of the films director, Will Gluck, and felt very involved throughout the whole process (an unusual prospect for a screenwriter). Best quote of the evening regarding his relationship with director Gluck? When asked if he felt that this was his baby and he now had to let go of to the director, he sighed and said, "Yes, but it takes two to make a baby."

You like teen comedies.
You like Emma Stone.
You are prepared to see THE SCARLET LETTER destroyed in a harmless, funny way.