High-school English teachers may have trouble getting students to read classic books, but Hollywood has found a way to successfully peddle canonical texts to the same audience. As a result of its apparently original-story-drained creativity well, movie studios have made over literary favorites into pitch-perfect rom-com drivel for the hormone-saturated set (and, of course, those of us who enjoy a good guilty pleasure). So, with Easy A, a rather loose retelling of The Scarlet Letter hitting theaters today, here’s a look at six deliciously dumbed-down movies based on classic works of literature.
A year before Gwyneth Paltrow starred as everyone’s favorite poor-little-rich-girl in 1996’s Emma, Alicia Silverstone codified Jane Austen’s precocious protagonist as Cher Horowitz in Clueless. The movie revels in the campy excess of mid-’90s Beverly Hills while adhering closely to Austen’s 1815 comedy of manners as Cher bumbles her way through mistaken matchmaking, shifting social power dynamics, and perhaps the most harrowing 38 seconds anyone has ever spent on the Los Angeles freeway.