Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I'd heard good things about this flick when it came out last year, but didn't get a chance to see it until tonight on cable. The good things are true.
It's a high school situation comedy that hits a lot of the familiar tropes (as they say nowadays) and yet is original enough and well acted and scripted enough to satisfy. At least this viewer.
It stars Emma Stone, who proved how great her acting chops are in smaller roles in comedies like THE HOUSE BUNNY, THE ROCKER and SUPERBAD.
This time she gets to play the lead in a role not too far from Lindsay Lohan's in MEAN GIRLS (the standard even EASY A cannot match for high school comedies with female leads). She has always reminded me a little of Lohan too. What they used to call when I was a kid, "the poor man's version"—as in B movie stars meant to evoke A move stars, like Lisbeth Scott was "the poor man's Lauren Bacall."
It's partly a treat to watch because there's such a great cast, with Amanda Bynes—who proved herself the carol Burnett of kids' comedy and one of the originators of that trend on cable TV back when my thirteen-year-old was little and watched her show and later did her own versions of high school and college comedies—as one of the comic foils among the students and Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow and Malcolm McDowell as the foils among the high school staff.
The real treat is the always amazing (for my taste anyway) Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as Stone's character's parents. In fact the few scenes they have with her are worth watching the movie for. Had me definitely laughing out loud.
Like a lot of high school comedies in recent years (10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, CLUELESS et. al.) it riffs on a classic (in this case THE SCARLET LETTER), more like turns it on its head to make a similar point. But there are enough complications to keep the narrative moving briskly and make room for the comic bits, especially with the parents.
The writing isn't up to the standard set by Tina Fey in MEAN GIRLS, but it's good enough for light entertainment. I was thoroughly entertained.