Starring Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Hayden Church, Stanley Tucci, Malcolm McDowell, and Lisa Kudrow
Written by Bert V. Royal
Directed by Will Glick
MPAA Rating PG-13
Running time 93 min
Selig Film Rating: FULL PRICE
One of the things I loved the best from Zombieland was Emma Stone. Her hard kicking character just ruled every moment of the film and made it a joy to watch. She's been in a number of films in the past few years and finally gets a strong starring turn with Easy A, one of the most delightful Fall flicks about lying you will see.
The film starts in medius rea in the little town of Ojai CA, with Olive (Emma Stone) telling her tale of woe on the Internet. She is one of the regular kids going to high school, just another student. Like all chicks, she has a best buddy Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) and a crush Todd (Penn Badgley). She also has a tormentor, religious zealot Marianne (Amanda Bynes) Even though they have been going to the same schools for years. Marinanne really doesn't know Olive.
In school Olive is studying The Scarlet Letter, the foreshadowing event. One of her gay friends is tired of getting beat-up by the jocks so he hatches a plan. He asks Olive to act like they are having sex at a party, just to give him some macho cred. She very reluctantly goes along with it, yet changes her life.
The phony tryst gets all around school via social networking that Olive is a wild woman. Thus, starts her downfall. Other geeky guys decide to take advantage of Olive's rumor mill and soon she is a marked woman. Now that Olive has the interest of the entire school, she revels in gleaning bad behavior to the point of wearing a scarlet A on her breast. The rest of the film is how one little lie combined with a media obsessed culture can generate a mountain slide of deceit.
Olive's parents are played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. They are both the grown-up California hippies, just grooving along with few cares in this world. Each gets a few moments here and there to nail some seriously comic lines. Patricia Clarkson does such a strong job as Mom, dispensing advice while still being the cool chick, oozing charm with every beat.
Amanda Bynes has stated that she is retiring from acting. That would be a shame. She has such great comic timing and has proven it in film after film. There is this sunny disposition she brings to any character she plays. While this is one her smaller roles, it is a more thought out character and gives her a chance to be something more than the wacky girl next door.
There are two big wastes in the cast–Malcolm McDowell as the principal and Fred Armisen as the pastor. Neither is given much to do other than have patrons go "look who that is" moments. Both deserved better and larger parts. Penn Badgley plays the paramour but is given little to do other than be eye candy for Olive.
This film would never have worked without Emma Stone. As Olive, she is the unknown cool chick, the girl everyone wants to be around. She has a razor wit and a tommy gun mouth, shooting off killer one liners with the rhythm of a stand-up comic. As she spins her web of deceit on the World Wide Web, she never seems to grasp how detrimental this incident is going to be until it is too late to stop it. Finding out that lies thrive fast in the ether is a bitter lesson to learn.
There are so many references to classic 1980's films like The Breakfast Club, Say Anything and Can't Buy Me Love. Some of the references are overt and some subtle. It all adds up to a little game of 'Who Can Catch the Reference?' It is both cleaver and charming without being overstated. Writer Bert V. Royal knows his genre and does it justice, giving the kids something new while giving their parents a trip down nostalgia lane.
Since they are both coming out at the same time, there will be many cinematic compare and contrast debates between Easy A and The Virginity Hit. The debate is going to be a bit one sided. Where The Virginity Hit goes for the Id, Easy A goes toward the Super Ego. The Virginity Hit is crude, Easy A is cleaver. Smart and snappy comedies that pay homage to their past are few and far between, another reason to rush out and catch Easy A.