By Nick Manteris · 0 Comments · Leave a Comment
Easy A is a high school comedy starring Emma Stone in her biggest role to date. Emma was great in her smaller roles from Superbad or Zombieland, but this film rests completely on her shoulders. As Olive Penderghast, she plays an ordinary high school girl that gets caught up in a web of lies that eventually starts to affect the lives of other people. And she proves, without a doubt, that she can headline a movie while simultaneously making it look easy.
Olive is sassy and witty and smarter than the average bear. (Actually, she’s smarter than several above-average bears …and probably everyone that you went to high school with as well. It’s “heightened reality” though, so that’s a good thing.) Her parents, Rosemary (Patricia Clarkson) and Dill (Stanley Tucci,) are also intelligent and witty and open-minded and well, exactly like the type of parents that would probably create an overly mature and responsible child like Olive in real life… if only any parents could ever really allow themselves to be so progressive. (Sidenote: Emma Stone’s real-life parents tried an interesting tactic that seemed to work well for her and her brother. They said, “if you tell the truth, you will never be punished, and if you lie, the punishment will be huge.” I have to say: that’s pretty cool.) Anyway, Olive’s parents get some of the best lines in the film and they really do ground her character in the augmented reality of the movie. It’s easy to imagine that these particular parents would produce the “wise beyond her years” girl like Olive.
Because of the sassy main character, this film bears a lot of similarities to Juno, except, unlike Diablo Cody, first-time screenwriter Bert V. Royal seems to know how and when to edit. Juno’s script had hundreds upon hundreds of jokes in it: a few were great, some were really good and a number of them were utter failures. In Easy A, the jokes are smaller – but consistant – and the failure rate is also much, much lower. Royal supposedly also modeled this story after The Scarlet Letter. (I haven’t actually read Hawthorne’s book, but I get the impression that this film is more loosely based on it than Clueless was on Jane Austin’s Emma.) It’s just as much a film of its time as Clueless was in the mid-90s though, and – as an added bonus – Easy A makes a lot more pop culture references. There are specific references to several 80s movies from the late, great John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and they feel more like an homage to him than a rip-off of his best work… even though the references are used to enrich this particular film. Also – either because they are so prevalent in films from the 80’s, or because the deal that was made to feature their sunglasses in almost every movie from that decade extends, (in perpetuity, one imagines,) into movies that only just reference films from the eighties – the main character prominently wears Ray-Bans in one very showy scene. (We may never know why, but I suspect it’s the latter.)
The movie isn’t perfect as most of the subplots are uneven in one way or another – including the one with “Woodchuck Todd” – and it brings up some serious issues, but fails to address any of them in a serious manner. (That shouldn’t be too shocking: it is only a comedy, after all.) Nevertheless, Easy A is an intelligent teenage film that doesn’t talk down to its audience. (That audience might unintentionally be the kids that grew up in the 80s, however. :: shrugs ::) It’s clever and witty and, while it may not be quite as “fetch” as Mean Girls, it definitely belongs with that movie (as well as Juno and Clueless) at the top of the post-80s high school comedy list. I found it to be much more entertaining than I originally suspected and I don’t have any problems recommending this film. (Also: I can’t wait for the next script from Bert V. Royal and I’m going to be watching for new things from director Will Gluck as well… just in case.)