A straight A, clean-cut high school student tells one little white lie and finds that circumstances soon snowball out of control with help from the school's rumour mill.
Firstly, not only does Emma Stone (The Help) get to star in the best teen comedy since "Clueless" but she gets to have Patricia Clarkson (The Maze Runner) and Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) as her parents. The cast is also stocked up with good performances from Lisa Kudrow (Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion), Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl), Thomas Hayden Church (Sideways), Amanda Bynes (Sydney White) and Malcolm McDowell (Cat People).
I like this film alot. I like that Emma Stone's "Olive" sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne's in "The Scarlet Letter," which she is currently studying in school. I like that they make fun of Demi Moore's 1995 "The Scarlet Letter" all the way through with a running gag about taking long baths. It did seem that Moore took a lot of baths in that version of the story. I like that a bored Olive spends the weekend dancing to the tune contained in her birthday card ("Pocketful of Sunshine" by Natasha Bedingfield). I like that Olive's whole family are intelligent and ever so whacky. But mostly I like Olive's integrity and humour and her ability to get into and out of trouble while still maintaining dignity and being true to herself.
Despite a brilliant cast, the film begins and ends with Stone, who seems to be a jill of all trades, which I'm confident will lead to a lengthy career (let us never speak of Gangster Squad), as she can effectively give us a range of emotions to earn our sympathy, or be a sensitive, fragile Molly Ringwald. And, best of all it seems to come naturally without her ever looking unnatural or forced in her roles. I like that she seems to be having the best time ever in this film, making it very fun to watch.
The film has a very John Hughes feel to it and Olive even says at one point that she wants her life to have a "Sixteen Candles" or "Breakfast Club" moment. So, it seems that director Gluck may be a Hughes fan and this film is a homage rather than a copy. If correct, then kudos. Either way, the film is a joy to watch on so many different levels.
The original Scarlet Letter was made in 1926 and starred Lillian Gish (silent film actor). In 1979 they rebooted the film, this time starring Meg Forster. The Scarlet Letter was rebooted again in 1995 starring Demi Moore. The script was written by the author of the book Nathaniel Hawthorne but even that didn't save it from being panned by critics.