Tuesday 16 November 2010

EASY A review

Just about still in cinemas is the new Emma Stone starring high school comedy.
Read my review and find out more, after the jump...

Broadcast via webcast, we hear how high school student Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone), tired of having to explain why she never has a boyfriend, decides to invent a secret liaison with a boy just to shut her friend Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) up. Unfortunately her fake tale of one night romance is overheard by the schools prissy, bible-waving do-gooder Marianne (Amanda Bynes), and the rumour mill starts. Not seeing the need to protect her reputation, Olive agrees to help out a gay friend being bullied, arranging another fake night of passion to complete the ruse he is straight. It's not long before all the bullied kids are knocking on Olive's door hoping to boost their social status, and what's wrong with a girl getting some payment for her fake romantic services?

Olive sees the situation as a way to improve her English class grade (currently reading The Scarlet Letter) but it doesn't take long before the whole school is talking about her as the new school tramp, and Olive can't help but fan the flames a little by embroidering a scandalous red A onto her clothes, just like the main character from the Scarlet Letter.

Avoiding the saccharine predictability that befalls too many teen comedies these days, Easy A owes everything to the bright new star that is Emma Stone. She's impressed before in Superbad and Zombieland, but this is her clear arrival as a leading lady. She's sassy, ballsy and sexy as the charming Olive Penderghast, the kind of cool, witty high school virgin that only seems to exist in the movies. Olive is someone you'd want to be friends with, although you'd have to be prepared to be shot down down by her witticisms.

Here, Emma Stone definitely stakes her claim as a new queen of comedy, and in line with her character's fond reminiscence of John Hughes high school comedies, is easily able to combine the redhead rebellion of Molly Ringwald with the smart mouth of Ferris Bueller. She's smarter than you, and she knows it. Easy A roughly follows the plot of The Scarlet Letter, and whilst not being a straight re-telling, it does what the best high school literary adaptations have done in the last 15 years by using what's important and ditching the rest.

Although Olive does have a central love interest (Gossip Girl's Penn Badgley), he's not introduced until later in the story. For the most part, Olive's adrift in a world of loners and boners, having to contend with the desires of a parade of high school boys. Luckily, what she does have is the worlds coolest parents, obviously where she gets her smart as a whip sense of humour from. Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci are a great double act as Olive's (perhaps a bit too) liberal parents, turning a blind eye when their daughter announces she is in detention for calling another student a certain slang term for a piece of anatomy. It's a house of laughter where they guide and love her, but allow Olive to learn from her mistakes.

I actually enjoyed parts of Will Gluck's previous directorial effort, 2009's cheerleader comedy, Fired Up! It took what I expected to be a formulaic high school film and laced it with a dry, witty and at times acerbic sense of humour. Both films carry that similar sense of humour, picking apart the addictive but lame parts of life. Take Easy A's constant use of Natasha Bedingfield's 'Pocket Full Of Sunshine' as an example; it gets highly addictive. If Gluck continues making films this smart and funny, I'm confident he'll become a big comedy director.

It does veer towards predictability towards the end, but has a nice nostalgic nod to John Hughes' films that'll make you leave smiling. Easy A is smart and sassy, and well informed by all the teen movies that have come before it. A word of warning though...be prepared to have 'Pocket Full of Sunshine' in your head for the next few weeks.


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