Even with a mindnumbingly drab name like Easy A, Will Gluck’s latest film manages to transcend the mold of teenage cautionary tales while still providing some serious laughs and genuine moments. The choice of lead Emma Stone as Olive proves to be inspired, as her presence alone inspires forgiveness of any weakness in the film itself.
The story, as anyone with access to media in the last three months might tell you, centers around Olive. Olive is a confident, but lonely teenage girl in a stereotypical California high school. She turns faking sex with homosexual and outcast peers from a charity project, into a business. Of course, the presence of a fundamentalist Christian group (which may as well be named the Tea Party) seeks to ostracize her, and her fake bedmates in the name if Jesus. The persecution only encourages Olive (who’s English class happens to be studying The Scarlet Letter) to dress in lingerie with A’s either on her bodices or her jewelry. If you didn’t see this coming, all the lies about promescuity end up hurting most of the people involved. Who would have thought.
This truly sounds like a film churned out of Hollywood high school cliches and stereotypes. Nothing more would be expect of Gluck, who’s only other directing credit comes from the god-awful Fired Up!. Yet Gluck manages to make us forget the likes of his previous films, and other high school genre movies. In fact, this film (specifically because of Stone’s performance) is very reminding of Alicia Silverstone’s run as Cher in 1995′s Clueless. Meaning Easy A suffers from a bit of the expected, but really excels when it comes to a fresh script, and some very talented performers. Among those in the supporting cast, Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow standout, as a married couple, teacher and guidance counselor respectively, who also happen to be some of the most damaged by Olive’s poor choices. They are funny, and authentic, and a pleasure to watch every second they’re on screen. Olive’s parents are played by the fantastically talented Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci. These are both actors I uniformly love watching, but here they’re mildly typecast as the quintessential, liberal California parents who are just a little too perfect.
All compliments and complaints aside, the thing I loved most about Easy A‘s script (excluding Stone), was the wildly fresh script that kept me laughing out loud over and over. Credit is due to Bert V. Royal here, who’s only other writing credit (according to IMDb) is one episode of Gigantic in 2010. There’s a humor and intelligence in the crisp writing that I haven’t heard in a comedy since, well, for a long time. This film is well worth anyone’s time and I suggest you get yourself to the theatre sooner rather than later.