Originally Reviewed – 9/28/2010
News flash: High school kind of sucks. Unless you were an exceptionally popular kid who sported a varsity letter jacket, a cool hair style and more friends than Facebook, the needless social pressures of high school were a drag for eighty percent of the kids involved. Despite classes, puberty and the inconceivable task of deciding who you were going to be for the rest of your life, high school was the first time most people had to deal with a social strata. An almost arbitrary hierarchy of standards and measures, being hip amongst your classmates requires most people to either risk being an outcast or change who they are in an attempt to fit in. Easy A, the smarty written teen comedy starring Emma Stone, examines the later in what is easily the best teen comedy I?ve seen in quite some time.
The story centers on Olive, an overly smart high school girl who, after telling her best friend a fib about a weekend tryst that never happened, suddenly becomes the victim of the fabled high school rumor mill. Once a wall flower and now deflowered according to her peers, she is confronted by her gay friend, Brandon, who asks her to feign sleeping with him in order for him to gain some social standing and prevent the daily beat downs by the wrestling team. Olive complies and quickly becomes the talk of the school. Reveling in this negative attention, Olive turns this lie into dozens, making herself into a startup business for the forlorn losers of the school. However, when her little white lies start affecting her friends, teachers and almost her family, she suddenly realizes how important her suddenly sullied reputation really is.
Once a supporting actress, Emma Stone is clearly the breakout winner in this film. Quick, witty and sassy, Stone wraps herself up in the character of Olive and has made herself a star in the process. The character of Olive could have easily succumbed to clichés but Stone does a remarkable job in keeping her many facets balanced and believable while maintaining a charm that is very reminiscent of Ellen Page?s turn in Juno. The rest of the ensemble cast fills her world with interesting and believable characters; Thomas Haden Church is great as the ?cool teacher?, Amanda Bynes is surprisingly believable as Marianne, Olive?s bible thumping nemesis and even Malcolm McDowell makes an appearance as the line chewing principal. Above all, though, are the fantastic performances of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive?s parents that really stand out. Playing the cool, understanding parents we all wish we had, Tucci and Clarkson are great together, providing laughs every time they are on screen.
One of the better written films of the year, Easy A is helped greatly by a fine screenplay, written by Bert V. Royal. Good acting can only go so far and Royal?s screenplay keeps the story moving while giving us an honest yet quirky view of what high school life is all about. While the writing does lean on certain clichés and contrivances, especially towards its neatly sown up end, the sharp dialogue and quick wit make the film a completely enjoyable experience. Minor issues of pacing and an almost over-reliance on smart kid humor are the only real issues I can find and none of them mar the great time I had while watching this movie.
First time director Will Gluck should be proud. He has managed to create a sharply written film that blends standard teen comedy archetypes with modern day issues that works for both young and audiences alike. Although the ending is fairly clear after the first hour, I couldn?t have walked away from the film if the building were on fire. Emma Stone and company do a fine job of conveying the social issues plaguing kids in high school as well as the trails that go along with discovering one?s self. Wrap that all up in a film that is genuinely funny and at the same time endearing, and you have a great movie that is a worthwhile watch for viewers of all ages. Besides, we?ve all hated high school at one point, right?
Score – 80%