Who's In It: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Cam Gigandet, Penn Badgely, Aly Michalka, Dan Byrd, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, Stanley Tucci
The Basics: A smart high school good-girl, inspired by The Scarlet Letter, decides to spread sexual rumors about herself on the Internet in an attempt at changing her social status. Adding visual kick to her scheme, she also chooses to walk around school in a black bustier with a big red letter "A" over one of her breasts. So yes, it's science fiction, but the kind where the brains required for science are used in the service of delivering ostentatiously sassy one-liners instead of trying to get into a good college.
What's The Deal: Juno just about hit it right on the teen movie aspiration scale. And that's because it didn't lose focus, paint its characters into corners or make everyone so obnoxious you couldn't still love them, not even too-cool Juno herself. This one does; its satire gets confused, most of its teen types aren't sharp enough to stick, and it lacks the emotional kick of even second-tier teen movies that came before (most notably Can't Buy Me Love, which is explicitly referenced here). That doesn't make it horrible, just average. The kind of movie you find yourself laughing along with and then forgetting about when it's over. A "B" for effort and "C+" for execution.
I Have A Good Idea:Everyone stop trying to make "John Hughes" movies. Let's just stop it right now. And let's stop telling everyone that's what we're doing while we're doing it. Because if you're making a movie about teenagers and you manage to strike that perfect balance between idiot adolescent humor and desperately yearning teenage emotion, you'll have done your job properly. If not, no amount of "Hey, look at me! I'm making a John Hughes movie!" arm-waving is going to convince anybody of anything. And (the not great at all) Not Another Teen Movie already exhausted that stuff anyway and featured a Molly Ringwald cameo as icing.
Where You've Seen Emma Stone Before: In Zombieland, The House Bunny and Superbad. She's worth more than the material she's given to work with here but if you wind up liking it all it'll be because of her. She's funny, charming and she's eventually going to be a big comedy deal in better movies.
Who'll Be Offended: People who've actually read The Scarlet Letter and Christians who are thin-skinned about being goofed on. (Exhibit A: Amanda Bynes as a chaste teenager whose performance isn't as wickedly uptight as Mandy Moore's in Saved!.)