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'Easy A' Movie Review

Screen Gems Comes Up with a Real Gem with 'Easy A'

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

Emma Stone stars in Easy A movie review

Emma Stone in 'Easy A.'

© Screen Gems
It's far too early to say Easy A will be talked about in the same way as the classic John Hughes teen comedies of the 1980s. Hughes' films have had a significant impact on the genre, standing the test of time by not playing down to the audience, not dumbing up the teens, and reaching an audience far beyond those in high school/college. But after a single viewing of the smartly written and directed Easy A, I feel safe in saying that, just as with 16 Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller, it's a movie I know I'll be unable to resist watching whenever it pops up on cable TV - no matter how many times I've seen it.
Easy A isn't a throw-away teen film. It may have the loss of virginity as one of its central themes, but there's no sex and no gratuitous showing of skin. What Easy A is is a surprisingly fresh, charming and intelligent PG-13 film, a movie with a message but not a 'message movie'. And Emma Stone - best known for her work in Zombieland and Superbad - is absolutely the perfect choice to handle the bulk of the load in Easy A. She's simply phenomenal as a high school student who blends in with the herd until one day when a lie propels her to the top of the food chart. Stone's so terrific it's impossible to picture any other actress handling the lead in Easy A as well as this 21 year old pulls it off.

The Story

Set in So California's Ojai Valley, Easy A follows the misadventures of Olive Penderghast (Stone) as she tells her BFF Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) a lie about losing her virginity to a college boy to cover up for a boring weekend full of multiple renditions of the annoyingly upbeat Pocketful of Sunshine sung in the shower, in bed, while doing her nails, and while serenading her dog. Unfortunately, Olive's 'confession' is overheard by the school's reigning queen of all things pure, Marianne (Amanda Bynes). Marianne heads up the school's Christian/abstinence society and she's not about to let Olive's slutty ways go unnoticed. Via Twitter, Facebook and other social media resources, Marianne spreads the word so quickly that everyone on campus knows about Olive's behavior before she can make it from one end of the school to the other.

Penn Badgley and Emma Stone Easy A photo

Penn Badgley and Emma Stone in 'Easy A.'

© Screen Gems
Now, Olive just so happens to be studying The Scarlet Letter in school and instead of fighting back, she gives into the lie and lets everyone believe she's easy. Why? There are multiple reasons and Olive - and Easy A - explain them all incredibly well. Every day Olive confesses what's going on in her life to a webcam, documenting how her undeserved yet embraced new reputation has affected her life in unexpected ways. Once just a face in the crowd, Olive now is the talk of the school. Boys pay attention whenever she's around, and that just didn't happen before she concocted her tale of a naughty night spent with an older guy.

With Olive's promiscuity now an accepted fact - she's even changed up her wardrobe, trading in her normal school clothes for skimpy, tight-fitting attire each with a letter 'A' emblazoned on the chest area - some of her less than popular classmates seek out her companionship to elevate their social status. But as Olive uses her strange new rank among her peers to help out those less fortunate, she finds herself facing tough questions about just who she is and what price she's ultimately willing to pay for the loss of her good reputation.

The Acting

Emma Stone confirms her place on the top 10 list of actresses in their 20s with this brilliant performance. Stone displays impressive comedic timing, sings, dances, and even shows off her sexy side. Plus, she's in nearly every single frame of the movie, carrying the load for the entire film and yet you never ever grow tired of seeing her on the screen. If there's one negative to Easy A, it's accepting the fact Stone would ever be treated as an anonymous face in the crowd at school. That's pretty hard to swallow. Still, Stone's such a breath of fresh air, so unique and so funny that had director Will Gluck opted not to cast her because of her good looks, it would have been a crying shame.

This is the role that will send every casting director in Hollywood knocking on Stone's door. She's so self-assured, so 'Olive' that everyone around her seems to pick up the gauntlet she throws down and come through with their A-games.

Other outstanding performances come from the always-reliable Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson who play Olive's liberal-minded parents. Tucci and Clarkson are so good together they make you want to adopt them as parents. They're trusting and supportive and even when Olive gets sent to the principal's office, starts dressing like a floozy, and exhibits a drastic change in behavior, they're there for her every step of the way. And I know the above description sounds a little like a Hollywood-ish version of parents, but it doesn't play out that way thanks in large part to what Tucci and Clarkson bring to the table.

Stanley Tucci, Emma Stone, Bryce Clyde Jenkins and Patricia Clarkson Easy A photo

Stanley Tucci, Emma Stone, Bryce Clyde Jenkins and Patricia Clarkson in 'Easy A.'

© Screen Gems
Additional stand-outs in the all-around terrific supporting cast include Amanda Bynes (who apparently didn't quit acting after all) as a Jesus-loving teen who condemns and shuns Olive, Dan Byrd as a gay classmate who pretends to sleep with Olive in order to stop the gossip about his sexuality (their bedroom scene is absolutely hilarious), Thomas Haden Church as Olive's favorite teacher who treats his students with respect, and Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl) as the school's mascot and one of Olive's oldest friends who doesn't believe in the gossip and keeps on believing in Olive's goodness.

The Bottom Line

If Easy A isn't on your must-see list, put it there. Easily one of the most entertaining movies of 2010 - and yes, I'm serious - this one works on so many levels, it's almost necessary to see it twice to fully appreciate what director Gluck and screenwriter Bert V Royal do with this charming tale that touches on peer pressure, double standards, and the impact one little lie can have on your reputation. Like John Hughes' best films, Easy A isn't a 'teen film' but a film that everyone can relate to, no matter your age or sex.

GRADE: A

Easy A was directed by Will Gluck and is rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, language and some drug material.

Theatrical Release: September 17, 2010

This review is based on a screening provided by the studio. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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