Easy A This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 28, 2010
On the surface, “Easy A” is a comedy about the reality of the high school rumor mill. However, the film has several deeper themes drawn from Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, including sin and redemption.

Published in 1850, The Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne, a young woman living in Puritan Boston, who is forced to wear a scarlet A because she gave birth to a child out of wedlock. “Easy A” offers a unique, modern version of Hester Prynne's tale.

Protagonist Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) is the archetypal high school nobody, unknown and unpopular. Unlike Hester, however, Olive never commits adultery; she simply lies to her best friend about having sex. As any high school student knows, gossip spreads like wildfire in a schoolwide game of telephone. Olive, rather than deny the rumor, embraces her newfound attention and even decides to affix a red A to her own clothing, inspired by The Scarlet Letter, which she is reading in English class. Olive's new reputation sets off a chain of events that drastically change her social life.

Emma Stone delivers a convincing performance. She fits into the high school setting, even three years after playing a high schooler in “Superbad.” The supporting cast is surprisingly excellent, especially Stanley Tucci as Olive's extremely liberal father, and Thomas Haden Church as her favorite English teacher. The writing is clever, with clear and meaningful themes.

It is obvious that “Easy A” is inspired by The Scarlet Letter. In fact, my one and only issue is that this connection may be too obvious, beaten to death by the fact that Olive is reading Hawthorne's novel for school. I would have preferred if “Easy A” followed a similar plot to The Scarlet Letter but didn't mention it, as the Coen brothers' “A Serious Man” followed the biblical story of Job. I feel that this style would have enhanced the experience for those of us who had read the novel and could identify similarities along the way.

Overall, “Easy A” has great acting and great humor. It's a film for everybody, even my chick-flick-hating father. The fact that it uses The Scarlet Letter as inspiration allows it to explore themes not normally found in this genre, including sin, redemption, and slander. Olive is able to ask important questions: what is the worst sin – lying, adultery, or perhaps lying about adultery?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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