"Easy A" Movie Review

9/19/2010 Posted by Admin

"Easy A"

Movie Review

Directed by Will Gluck, Written by Bert V. Royal, 92 Minutes, Rated PG-13

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"Easy A" is pretty much destined to join "Superbad," "Mean Girls," and, looking a bit further back, "10 Things I Hate About You," as a modern teen movie classic. Unbelievably sharp writing, excellent performances and a fine mix of lower-brow humor with clever dialogue and mature storytelling make it one of the most entertaining comedies of this year, as well as the past few.

In her first big lead role, Emma Stone plays Olive Penderghast, a whip-smart but invisible high school student who finds her life turned upside-down when she lies about sleeping with her friend Brandon in order to keep his homosexuality a secret to his bullying schoolmates. Rumors spread, and Olive gradually embraces her new reputation as a teenage floozy, but eventually the attention becomes less than flattering and more than just her reputation is at stake.

The film owes a lot to John Hughes--and at one point it outright says as much--it's very much a Hughes film for the modern audience, and in that respect it works extremely well. It has a great and varied cast of colorful characters and it manages to be timely without speaking too specifically toward its target demographic. There's pretty much something for anyone here. The film is also (very loosely) based on "The Scarlet Letter," which winds up being less an inspiration for the plot and more a source for one of the film's funniest gags wherein various characters mockingly refer to the 1995 adaptation of the novel starring Demi Moore.

Still, even with the references to Hawthorne, Hughes and various other teen movies, "Easy A" is incredibly refreshing in its clever and fluid plotting and solid balance of the self-aware quirky dialogue typical of a lot of recent comedies and more toned-down humor. Those who find fault in the dialogue of something like "Juno" will probably be impressed at how economically that writing style is used here.

But a lot of credit also has to go to Emma Stone, who, despite the wonderful supporting cast and solid writing, definitely carries the whole film. If anyone was unsure of her potential as a leading lady after her small but generally charming bits in "Superbad" and "Zombieland" will definitely be impressed by how well she carries herself here. It may be cliche to say it, but this is a starmaking role if there ever was one.

The rest of the cast ranges from good to excellent--Amanda Bynes does a sub-par Mandy Moore as Olive's super-Christian nemesis Marianne, but she does well enough. Thomas Hayden Church and Malcolm McDowell have very brief but amusing roles as faculty at Olive's school. Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci completely steal the show, though, as Olive's eccentric but endlessly endearing parents, perhaps the film's most clear homage to Hughes, specifically his absurd adult characters.

Really, the film only falls short in its final act, where, pretty much inevitably, it's forced to bring its multiple plot strands together in a coherent manner, which results in a lot of rushing and shoddy characterization, a trait it shares with most of its ilk, especially "Mean Girls." A small price to pay, really, for a film that's otherwise so unbelievably enjoyable. For those into clever comedy, young or old, it's really not to be missed.

Grade: B+

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