There’s something oddly, off-puttingly smug about Easy A, a tone-deaf attempt to transplant Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter – or at least its consideration of puritanical judgment – to a contemporary high-school setting. The movie is pleased with its conceit and pleased with its star, Emma Stone, but that doesn’t add up to a pleasant experience. Not that Stone, the witty, red-headed baritone of Superbad and Zombieland , is the problem. She does what she can with the part of Olive, a usually level-headed teen who unwisely starts a rumor that she slept with an older guy one weekend. When the story spreads like wildfire, Olive decides to feed the flames with more tales, partly as a social experiment in judgment and gossip but mostly because it makes for a salacious, provocative screenplay. Easy A takes this premise in all sorts of icky, unwise places, such as a gag involving a student catching chlamydia from his teacher (a shrill Lisa Kudrow). Also grating are the usually charming Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive’s maddeningly mellow parents. They want to be Juno’s mom and dad almost as much as Easy A wants to be Juno.
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