Easy A is a modern twist on the classic novel The Scarlet Letter, and it’s a nice throwback to all the 80’s teen comedies like Can’t Buy Me Love and The Breakfast Club. A standout performance by up and coming actress Emma Stone elevates this comedy above most in the genre.
Olive is a beautiful, smart and self-assured high school student who suffers the same fate of all gorgeous ladies in romantic comedies-she can’t get a date. Yeah, right. Olive spends her Saturday nights at home singing to her dog. Rather than fess up to that fact, she tells her best friend that she was out with a college boy, and implies that she lost her virginity.
Word of the (pretend) coupling travels quickly via texting and such, and Olive is soon rebuked by the females at the school for being the school slut. At the same time, she has a new found popularity with the men, who believe they might have a shot at her.
When her best male friend (who is gay) waffles on whether to come out of the closet or not, she urges him to wait until after high school. They concoct a plan to silence his tormentors; she’ll pretend to sleep with him and everyone will think he is straight.
Although Olive is initially shocked with how quickly she is shuffled in the high school caste system, she quickly rebounds and decides to profit from the situation. She starts wearing provocative clothing and affixes a scarlet “A” to her clothing, all the while collecting money from hapless nerds to pretend she is doing the deed with them. Of course things snowball out of control.
The story is recounted by Olive via the internet. She has been forced to tell the whole tawdry (not really, but everyone thinks it is) story so she can set the record straight. At the end of the day we get a lesson on tolerance, gossip and honesty.
It’s an effervescent film that is sold by some truly delightful performances. Emma Stone (Zombieland) finally gets a starring role, and she is as charming as can be.
Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson play Olive’s progressive parents. Their characters are so unbelievably and ridiculously cool that it is tough to like them. No one acts like that. They have a wonderful relationship with Olive, and mealtimes are punctuated by witty banter and lots of laughing.
They don’t interfere when their daughter suddenly starts wearing corsets to school because they trust her, and know she will come to them if she needs help. Gag.
Amazingly, Tucci and Clarkson pull it off, a true testament to their likability. Thomas Haden Church is really funny as the high school teacher everyone loves. It is great to see him on screen again. Likewise Lisa Kudrow, who plays a harried high school counselor who has a hard enough time keeping her own life in order.
Olive’s BFF is played by gorgeous Aly Michalka, and Amanda Bynes plays the ringleader for a group of pious bible thumpers who are quick to cast the first figurative stone at Olive.
Penn Badgely (of Gossip Girl) is Olive’s childhood crush Todd, who steadfastly stands by her side when the rumors reach a crescendo.
It is evident from the get go that Easy A is influenced by a variety of classic 80’s movies, and the film goes a step further and actually plays a quick highlight reel from those very movies when Olive laments that she just wishes her life could be like an 80’s movie.
The film also ends with a sweet remake of “If You Were Here” from Sixteen Candles, and I’d be lying if I didn’t get those same old goose bumps again.
Easy A is an enjoyable film, but it is far from perfect. While I found the writing (by Bert Royal) to be clever at times, especially with all the little pop culture references peppered about, the different high school types are cartoonish and stereotypical. The gay friend is SUPER gay acting, the Christians are SUPER zealots, the jocks are SUPER dumb, and the nerds are-you guessed it-SUPER nerdy.
Olive and Todd are by far the most well-rounded of the bunch, but we are supposed to buy that they are both unpopular. Nonetheless, I believe that the filmmakers had their tongues firmly in cheek when making this film which serves as a bit of biting satire about high school culture.