Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) is a pretty and smart high school student, but completely anonymous to her fellow classmates. Her life and popularity take a giant leap when she is overheard telling her best friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) about her crazy weekend where she went out with a college guy and lost her virginity. This, of course, is a lie that she made up to have to avoid going camping with Rhiannon. As soon as the school’s leader of the Christian club Marianne (Amanda Bynes) hears this she gets the rumor ball rolling and the gossip spreads like wildfire. Olive is suddenly thrust into the schools spotlight because of her “sexual exploits.”
Olive likes the attention she’s getting and when her gay friend Brandon (Dan Byrd) comes to her pleading for help faking a sexual encounter, she agrees. He gets popularity and the chance not to be mistreated because of his sexuality and she in turns get gift cards to go shopping.
Well, the word spreads through the mistreated and geeky and Olive soon has a line of unpopular guys willing to pay her for pretend sexual encounters. Things start to get ugly when Olive’s life is compared to “The Scarlett Letter” and being the tough and independently-minded sassy female she is, she uses it to her advantage. Now, taking it to the next level, she is wearing corsets and putting a big red “A” on her entire wardrobe. As the situation goes sky high, she is confronted by her favorite teacher, Mr. Griffith (Thomas Haden Church), who doesn’t believe what he is hearing about her, but he also wants to warn her about the dangerous road she is on. An old friend and the school mascot Todd (Penn Badgley) is interested in Olive, but will the rumors keep him from trying to pursue a relationship with her, and will she ever be able to dig herself out of this hole of lies she has created and if so can her reputation ever be the same again?
“Easy A” is a smart and witty comedy aimed at the youth of today — but it is enjoyable for people of all ages. Director Will Gluck takes a simple story, retells it well and makes it relevant to today’s youth. Focusing a lot on the nostalgia from ’80s romantic teen comedies, Gluck pays homage to many past movies, especially the films of John Hughes. Olive is trying to take the modern digital-aged, fast-paced teenage life and make it more simplistic, as if she was living in a John Hughes film. The pace and timing of the movie are decent — there are lots of laughs from the audience throughout the film, with many of them coming from familiarity the audience has with the situations and occurrences the main characters are going through. That’s what makes this movie funny, the fact that almost every person can relate to what we are seeing onscreen.
Stone plays Olive wonderfully; she embodies the character fully and doesn’t hold back. Saying in an interview that she connected to so many parts of Olive, you can really see it shine through in her performance. Like a mixture of “Mean Girls” and “Juno,” we get the personality of Olive, this quick and funny witted girl who says things in a very astute way, sometimes beyond her years. Her intelligence and un-willingness to conform make her a rebel and also likeable. Amanda Bynes is the ultra conservative and pretty much close-minded shallow girl and although she causes trouble for Olive, you still like her on some level. She did a good job making her character more than the typical villainous popular girl.
We get great performances out the supporting cast. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are outstanding as Olive’s alternative and hippie minded parents. Their discussions and quips about each other are priceless and they love to joke around with their kids. They are shown as the ultimate parents, not judging or punishing, but loving and full of advice. Thomas Hayden Church is quite funny as well, also painted in the light of a great and caring teacher who is trying to help out his students that he sincerely cares about with his fortune cookie wisdom and clichés.
“Easy A” is the “Clueless” of this generation; it takes an old story and vintage style of movie-making and makes it current and fresh. “Easy A” is about being a teenager, but more importantly it’s about being a teenager in today’s wired culture. Sure to be a boost in Emma Stones career, we are going to see this young woman soar to great heights in the near future. I will say this movie is more in the teen to young adult demographic, but I think older people who are familiar with all of these ’80s references will truly enjoy this movie as well.
“Easy A” opened in theaters September 17th and is rated PG-13 for: Mature thematic elements and some drug references. It also stars Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, and Malcom McDowell
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