A teen comedy all about sex, without there actually being any sex, you say? Has John Hughes risen from the dead? Pretty damn close, as Will Gluck pays homage to the legendary director every chance he gets in Easy A — with better than expected results.
The film works on several fronts, although the bulk of its success can be attributed to Emma Stone raising the level of her game. This being her first star billing (she’s been supporting in films like House Bunny and Zombieland), she embraces Olive, the oft overlooked soft-spoken, nice-girl who overnight becomes the racy, tramp of East Ojai High School and never looks back. Well, she doesn’t really become a tramp; after she weaves a little white lie about screwing a college boy across town, her classmates, led by a religious zealot prude Marianne (Amanda Bynes), believe she is.
And just like in The Scarlet Letter, of which Easy A is loosely based, perception is everything. So instead of correcting the fabrication, Olive owns it and proudly wears her “badge of shame and sin” — using her new found notoriety to gain instant popularity and to help those in like situations (i.e., obscured loserdom). If it were only just so easy; there are drawbacks to this kind of popularity and in due time Olive becomes painfully aware of them. Of course, it is hard to understand why a school would react to such news in such a congratulatory way (or react at all) in real life, but it is part of the quirky charm of Easy A.
Also adding to the atmosphere are really good supporting characters played really well by some actors and actresses who have, at one time or another, done a really good job acting. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive’s super laid-back parents and are the dream of everyone who has or had a parent. I was never much of a fan of Amanda Bynes but she is rather good as the mean girl with a stick stuffed up her ass. Rounding out the supporting cast is Lisa Kudrow as the school’s guidance counselor, Thomas Haden Church as Olive’s English teacher and Malcolm McDowell as the school principal. All are fine additions.
Likewise, the dialogue written by Bert V. Royal is crisp and the jokes more often than not are laugh-out-loud funny. Director Will Gluck (who I felt missed a lot with his previous teen comedy Fired Up!) doesn’t make many mistakes — keeping Easy A moving along at a fair pace while pausing long enough for the sweet moments to kick in and take hold.
I suspect Easy A will do well at the box office since it has such a broad appeal (except perhaps to those who identify themselves as Christian fundamentalists). It should also easily be the vehicle to drive Emma Stone to the next level — as she is cute, smart and now apparently radiates star power.