Friday, October 22, 2010
Starring: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Aly Michalka, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow.
One of the greatest teen movies ever made, Clueless, was an update of Austen's Clueless. Likewise, Easy A is modern take on Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, this update is not half as clever or as relevant as it's predecessor. Olive is a funky, spunky, teenage girl who is well-liked but not really noticed in the social world of her high school. A bookish, witty and quietly hot young woman with a heart of gold, Olive accidentally lands herself in hot water by telling her overbearing best friend (Michalka) that she had lost her virginity. This tiny lie explodes all over school as the leader of a Christian mob (Bynes) spreads the rumour around like wildfire. As a favour to her gay friend, Olive agrees to pretend they have had sex so will stop getting bullied. Soon, she is accepting payment for saying she’s had sex with all the geeks and losers in school who hope that it will make them more appealing to girls. However, it isn’t long until the somewhat well-intentioned Olive finds herself in way over her head.
Easy A is a very entertaining film with some colourful supporting characters and a fantastic ensemble cast. Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci play Olive’s overly liberal, ex-hippy parents and are adorably quirky, yet extremely warm. Both characters give the film some of the depth that the shallow void of high school social politics takes away. Lisa Kudrow is also impressive as the school guidance counsellor who finds herself in a very tricky predicament. But enough about the grown-ups, this film’s young cast are all fantastic too! Emma Stone is a star on the rise since she appeared in Judd Apatow’s Superbad and easily graduates to leading lady playing the complex heroine of the film. She has a wonderful girl-next-door quality and is a likeable balance of attractive and ordinary-looking. She has great comic timing and ability to evoke warmth and chemistry with everyone she shares screen time with.
A major flaw in the film, despite Emma Stone’s great screen presence is that the character of Olive is poorly characterised and her change from confident young outcast to attention-seeking vixen is disarming and, unfortunately takes away from the film’s considerable charm in other departments. Olive is adorable and her change to corset-wearing vamp doesn’t quite gel with the smart, self-assured young women at the start of the film.
There’s something quite old-fashioned about Easy A. It seems to suggest that having teenage sex is shocking. I can’t imagine that there’s a high school in America (or anywhere in the western world) where a girl would become a celebrity because she admits to having lost her virginity. In many ways the film has a lot to say about teenagers and it goes to great pains to steer clear of patronising them, but there is nothing progressive about Olive’s story.
These flaws, though fundamental can’t dampen the high spirits of the film and the charming big heart that it wears on its sleeve. The script is at times eloquent, always hilarious and though it brandishes its John Hughes references a little too heavily at times, it does evoke his intuitive, respectful love of teenagers.
This is an enjoyable teen movie that could have been the next Mean Girls but misses the mark by poor characterisation. It’s still a fun trip to the cinema though!