Easy A: A Witty Tribute to Teen Movies Everywhere

17 09 2010
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter gets a modern twist (with a bit of John Hughes infusion) in Easy A. Starring Emma Stone (Zombieland), Easy A definitely will appeal to younger audiences; but with razor wit, a nod to the angsty teen flicks of the 80’s and a stellar cast, Easy A just might break beyond the teen demographic. Here’s the breakdown:

Olive is a typical, invisible high schooler. That is, until rumors start that she’s more of a bad girl than she really is. But instead of quelling the increasingly outrageous rumors, Olive uses her newfound attention to help out her friends in need – but at what cost?

The Monkey: Emma Stone is a relatively recent rising Hollywood starlet, and Easy A is proof that she has staying power. Stone carries most of the movie, providing a fantastically dry wit to her scenes, both with fellow cast members and during the many narrative monologues the film employs.

The script was pleasantly original, not something you see too often these days in the teen high school drama genre. The jokes were genuinely funny, fully earned, not relying just on sex and juvenile antics. It’s clear the filmmakers greatly respect the rich history of this genre, in particular the John Hughes films of the 80’s – it’s no surprise, then, when these films are referenced several times.

While Stone did a great job as the lead, the adult cast members almost stole the show. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson play Olive’s free-spirited and accepting parents, with Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow playing a teacher/counselor married couple at Olive’s school. These four actors do an amazing job of lending credibility to the movie; due in part to their wonderfully written characters, each of these performers brings just the right balance of weight and levity to the story. In particular, Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are hysterical as the non-judgmental, ever-loving parents. Their scenes are thoroughly enjoyable and sorely missed once over. A movie strictly about Olive’s family would be a watchable and hilarious movie in itself.

The Weasel: As stated above, most of the cast was great…most. But, there were some less than stellar performances. Amanda Bynes played the stereotypical Bible-thumping-bitch, set on converting everyone in sight while maintaining her holier-than-thou attitude. Unfortunately for Bynes, Mandy Moore already played this role to perfection in the 2004 indie hit, Saved!. Several of Olive’s high school classmates also failed to impress, notably Aly Michalka as loud-mouth Rhiannon and Penn Badgley as the token love interest. Whether it was the script’s inability to give these characters anything worth working with, or their lack of screen presence, who knows – either way, they failed to shine next to their superior castmates.

Easy A tries to leave audiences with some kind of moral, some kind of lesson to be learned that one can only learn in the context of the high school hierarchy. Unfortunately, you’re never really sure what that lesson is. Don’t lie? Don’t spread rumors? Only spread rumors that can help people? Look out for yourself? Needless to say, it’s a bit unclear. This is the part where Easy A really stumbles. It’s too bad, because if the filmmakers had put just a little more substance into the ending, just a little more thought into what they wanted audiences to walk away with, Easy A would be a welcome addition to the Teen Drama Pantheon.

A refreshingly witty high school comedy with a talented cast. If you’re a lover of John Hughes, a lover of the high school dramedy, or even just an Emma Stone fan, Easy A won’t disappoint.

3.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Did Easy A have a clear “moral of the story”? Will it be added to your list of favorite teen movies? Share your thoughts in the comments! Also, tell me your favorite teen movie – one of my favorites is 10 Things I Hate About You…what are some of yours?

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3 responses

21 09 2010

I really couldn’t have said it any better than you did. Having read your review now I am having a difficult time writing my own! haha. It will post later today, but, we are definitely on the same page with this one also! Real good writing on this one!

21 09 2010

Gave ya a mention/link in my review of Easy A. I agreed with your note on an overall message of the film and had to give you credit!…and btw, 10 Things is also one of my favs.

22 09 2010

Thanks for the shout-out! Glad you liked the review – hope to see Emma Stone in a lot more stuff in the future. And glad we agree on ’10 Things I Hate About You’ – definitely a classic! 🙂

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