Review: The whip-smart and web-savvy Easy A

Review: The whip-smart and web-savvy Easy A

Source: AssociatedPress

By: Jake Coyle

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Movie Title

Review: The whip-smart and web-savvy Easy A


Will Gluck

Star Cast

Emma stone, Aly Michalka, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell

The movies are getting faster.

This fall, the dialogue seems to be speeding up to an instant messaging pace. Like another web-savvy, hyper-verbal movie out soon ? The Social Network ? Easy A has some of the wordy whip-smarts of His Girl Friday, though its inspiration is much more John Hughes with a dash of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

High school teenager Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) is beautiful, sarcastic and witty. She breezes through phrases like "terminal illogical inexactitude" (falsehoods that travel quickly), makes elaborate Google Earth metaphors and does it all without arrogance or even an upturned eyebrow.

She is, in short, way out of any teenage boy's league.

Easy A begins with her speaking directly into the camera ? her computer's webcam ? explaining that "the rumors of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated." Introducing her story, she declares herself a reliable narrator "of sound mind and average breast size."

This narration continues sporadically throughout Easy A, but we only in the end find out its reason. In between, Olive accidentally develops a reputation as an "easy" girl after ? to satiate her badgering best friend Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) ? she lies about losing her virginity.

The rumor, spread by the school's resident religious zealot Marianne (Amanda Bynes, playing the blond type usually made a cheerleader in such movies), moves at the speed of Twitter. Olive doesn't especially mind that her reputation is soiled since she was previously anonymous.

She even embraces the role, sacrificing her rep for the sins of her classmates' sexual anxieties. Unlike most any high-schooler, Olive doesn't care what anyone thinks of her.

To help a gay friend fend off his heterosexual bullies, she pretends to have sex with him. Other suitors soon come calling, too, like a portly kid looking for an image boost.

It quickly gets out of hand and even her friends turn on her. Still undaunted, Olive dresses more provocatively (like a young, similarly chaste Britney Spears) and pins a red 'A' to her outfit. The reference, of course, is Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, which she's reading in a class taught by the school's coolest teacher (Thomas Haden Church, in perfect casting).

Narrating, Olive recommends "the original" film version, not "the Demi Moore one" where she takes "a bunch of baths." Easy A cleverly inverts Hawthorne's tale: Virginity is never lost, but in the age of Facebook (which, incidentally, Church's character gives a wonderful rant on), rumor alone is cruel enough.

"Whatever happened to chivalry?" wonders Olive, an outcast by then. "Did it only exist in `80s movies?"

"John Hughes did not direct my life," she adds.

That's true; Will Gluck did. Gluck ? whose previous film was another high school film, 2009's Fired Up! ? ably and stylistically transfers Bert V Royal's excellent, nimble script. Gluck weaves in modern technology seamlessly. In one sharp running gag, a pop song goes from an annoyance to an obsession to a ring tone.

The adults nearly steal the film. As Olive's parents, Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are hysterical. Olive's sarcasm is theirs exactly; together they're something like a troupe of clever actors role-playing as a family.

True to life, they are far less responsible than the younger, wiser generation. Tucci's father says he was gay once "for a long time"; Clarkson's mother admits to having slept with most of her high school. As a guidance counselor, Lisa Kudrow has more issues than her students. As the school principal, Malcolm McDowell proclaims his mission as only to "keep the girls off the pole and the guys off the pipe."

For all its Hawthorne quoting, Easy A is clearly the stepchild of Hughes; Olive is a kind of modern day Ferris Bueller. She has it pretty close to all figured out, and she even gets her own big, gratuitous musical number. It's a terrifically deadpan, lively performance from Stone.

But this swaggering comedy, as you might expect, will tie things up too neatly. File Easy A alongside Twilight: Sex just isn't part of coming-of-age stories at the movies these days.

Easy A, a Sony-Screen Gems release, is rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, language and some drug material.

Running time: 93 minutes

Rating: Three stars out of four

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