A teen flick that’s actually good and something completely different

When the inflight entertainment guide quoted Empire magazine as saying Easy A was the best teen comedy since Clueless, I decided that it was a low risk proposition to spend some of my 10 hour flight putting that claim to the test.

At first I was sceptical but after I caught myself laughing-out-loud during an early scene, I was hooked. An updated telling of The Scarlet Letter, it is a tongue-in-cheek and self-referential demonstration of how issues of image, the human need to belong, and hypocrisy within small communities (whether they be the old English village or the modern high school) remain timeless. It is not as ground-breaking as Clueless simply because Californian high school culture has been “done”, but it is nice to see an intelligent and (a bit too) clever central protagonist bringing a higher tone of humour to the genre.

In contrast Scott Pilgrim v The World feels like a teen flick but technically is not one (we are told the eponymous lead is 22 years of age). This was similarly highly billed as “witty, dazzling and highly original”, and it is certainly different but only going to make sense if you understand video game culture. The plot line is familiar: boy meets girl and must win her heart by overcoming his rivals and/or succeed at some task or competition. The twist is that the usual real-life scenarios are instead portrayed allegorically as a series of video game levels. It is agreeable watching, although sadly it is never explained what the central characters actually have in common to make their relationship plausible. But then many video game purists claim that storyline should be secondary to gameplay—entertainment—anyway, and it certainly has that.