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dir Will Gluck
scr Bert V Royal
prd Zanne Devine, Will Gluck
with Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Dan Byrd, Aly Michalka, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, Cam Gigandet, Fred Armisen
release US 17.Sep.10, UK 22.Oct.10
10/US Screen Gems 1h32
The scarlet letter: Badgley and Stone
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Smarter than your average teen comedy, this snappy movie knows how to keeps us laughing. But while the plot touches on some truths about teen sexuality, it feels constrained by the genre to be rather moralising about it.
To clear up confusion, 17-year-old Olive (Stone) is doing a live webcast outlining the chain of events that began when she inadvertently started a rumour that she'd lost her virginity. After letting the gossip grow, she's now known as the school slut; in the process she loses her best pal (Michalka) and wages war on the class goody-goody (Bynes). Her parents (Clarkson and Tucci) know the truth, as does her favourite teacher (Church), although the hearsay is about to upset his marriage to the school's guidance counsellor (Kudrow).
While it's essentially the usual shallow teen silliness, the filmmakers at least astutely cut through the sanitised approach we usually see. For one thing, they admit that teens think about sex a lot even if they don't do it as much as they'd like (or as much as their peers imagine they do). Although even with some fairly full-on dialog, there's an oddly prudish tone that continually tries to hint that sex is something naughty.
But never mind, while the teens believe that everyone's sleeping around, and Olive blatantly encourages the rumours, it's the adults who walk away with the film. Clarkson and Tucci are absolutely hysterical as Olive's open-minded parents, Church and Kudrow add effective serious subtext into their hilarious moments, and McDowell has the single funniest scene as the blustering principal. Opposite these pros, the younger cast members don't have a chance, although Stone holds her own with the help of an intelligent, witty script.
And the screenplay continually keeps the film from feeling too corny. Just when things start to get annoyingly inane, a razor-sharp one-liner emerges to wake us up. And the plot takes some darkly nasty turns along the way that nicely stir in some black comedy and resonant drama. But you know something's not quite right when, in a high school sex comedy, a teenager's relationship with her parents is the best thing on the screen.
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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