Friday, September 17, 2010

EASY A (2010)

The Score: 9 out of 10

Emma Stone makes me laugh. She has a natural affability and charm that immediately endears me to all the characters she plays. But she also possesses a priceless sense of comedic timing that turns the most innocuous character moments into hilarious movie gold. And Emma has a lot of help in this film from a surprisingly strong list of supporting actors and from screenwriter Bert V. Royal, who pens a brilliant part for her in a great film opening today: Easy A.

Emma Stone as the Misunderstood Olive in Easy A
Many critics are hailing Easy A as Emma Stone's breakout role as a true movie star, but I disagree. While Emma may not have had the largest roles in her previous movies, she has always shined as a new and bright star in every part she has played. And while the screenplay for Easy A is surprisingly strong, I doubt any other young female lead could have taken advantage of this part and owned it as completely and wholeheartedly as Emma did.
Emma Stone as Wichita in the Amazing Comedy/Horror Mash-up Zombieland
After her strong performances in Easy A and last year's surprise hit Zombieland (2009), I imagine we will be seeing Emma in more roles for big-budget films. In this process, though, I hope she stays true to her roots and keeps a strong grasp of her quirky and vivacious personality in her future parts. There are many strong actresses out there, but very few who can amuse audiences with such effortless grace. Let's hope the Hollywood mechanism does not change what we love best in Emma Stone.
Easy A (2010) Trailer
Let us move on to the film itself. The film's trailer embedded above accurately portrays the style, tone, and basic plot of the film. At its heart, Easy A is Nathaniel Hawthorne's 19th century novel The Scarlett Letter reimagined as a 21st century teen comedy with just a bit of nostalgia for the John Hughes teen comedies of the 1980's. And at a time when studios now seem more adverse to taking risks on original ideas, the most remarkable fact is not that this strange film was even made—although that is notable in itself—but that the film actually succeeds.
Emma Stone and Alyson Michalka Play Best Friends at the Beginning of the Film
Early in the film, Olive (Emma Stone) is invited to go camping by her best friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka). Olive does not care for Rhi's parents, so she makes up a white lie about being occupied that weekend with an imaginary boyfriend named George. The following Monday, Rhi demands juicy details of Olive's weekend. Olive tries to explain that nothing happened, but Rhi will not accept the truth so Olive playfully exaggerates about losing her virginity to mythic George.
Religious Extremist (Amanda Bynes) Catches Olive at an Awkward Moment
Unfortunately, the reigning religious extremist at their high school overhears them talk and begins spreading Olive's tall tale around the school. Olive is a little disturbed by everyone discussing the apparent loss of her virginity, but she is also a little intrigued by the newfound attention she is receiving. Infamy still has its element of fame, so she is even a little flattered by her sudden surge in popularity.
The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Immature High School Boys...
Soon a homosexual young man befriends Olive and learns the truth that she is still a virgin but that she allows the rumors about her to persist. He eventually asks for Olive's help to convince the jocks bullying him that he is straight. In a surprisingly moving scene, Olive reluctantly agrees to help him. They soon implement their plans to fool the rest of the school by staging a fake sexual experience together in a locked bedroom at a party.
Another Religious Extremist Verbally Berates Olive in Class
Upon the new rumors floating around of Olive's faked sexual exploits, another religious extremist at school disrupts a class discussion of The Scarlett Letter to mock Olive for her new status as a skank. This persecution begins to affect Olive and she decides to use the Scarlett Letter as a symbol of her own female empowerment. She changes the way she dresses, embroiders a scarlett "A" on all her outfits, and begins helping other young men deceive the school into thinking she slept with them.
No More Ms. Nice Olive
For the sake of your enjoyment of the film, I will not reveal what happens in the latter part of the film, but everything that follows resonates as true to life. If people think they can get away with turning you into a scapegoat, then chances are they will. Easy A develops into a surprisingly relevant comedy that is as intelligent as it is scathing.
Funny Scene
At this point Olive's parents become indispensable to her as she tries to navigate through very rough social terrain at school. Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci perfectly perform as her understanding and funny support system at home. Lisa Kudrow and Thomas Haden Church also play exceptionally well as Olive's funny support system at school, who eventually add more layers of complexity to her growing list of problems.
Todd (Penn Badgley) Flirts with the Now Laughably Notorious Olive (Emma Stone)
A good-natured and refreshing romance develops between Olive and Todd (Penn Badgley), but is not really the focus of the movie. So do not be disappointed if you were expecting a standard rom-com but instead encounter a film that goes a little deeper. This film is Emma Stone's story, through and through. The other storylines act mostly as icing on top of an already entertaining cake.
Long Live John Hughes Movies! Woo Hoo!!!
Take your love interest to watch Easy A in a movie theatre. This is a film that most date movies aspire to be but never achieve. You will laugh out loud hard and often, with plenty of entertainment to be found by all in this rare gem. Skip the other movies currently opening, which includes the overrated Catfish (2010) and yet another waste of time Devil (2010) developed by the once great yet fallen filmmaker: M. Night Shyamalan. Instead, have a good time and score an Easy A this weekend with your significant other.

If you have any remaining doubts, you can check out the first ten minutes of Easy A in the video embedded below. Decide for yourself.
Easy A (2010) First 10 Minutes
Easy A (2010) contains many frank discussions of sexuality and teen characters frequently use sexual slang. Parents should know this teen comedy was originally scripted as an R-rated comedy on account of vulgar language, but the screenplay was subsequently cleaned and the "harder" cuss words were replaced with "softer" variants—in one instance the original American slang word was obviously replaced with a less well-known British variant. So parents might use a little discretion since this is one of the "harder" PG-13 rated comedies because of its mature subject matter and language, but is a strangely positive morality tale compared to other films of the genre and definitely worth watching.
Easy A (2010) Production Featurette

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