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Easy A (2010)

January 5, 2011

VERDICT:
8/10 Faux Floozies

Well isn’t this the nicest little surprise of the year.

Easy A is about a straight-laced High School teen who lies to her nagging friend about how she lost her V-card over the weekend, is overheard by the head of the school’s God Squad, and before she knows it, the rumors snowball and her gossipy peers quickly peg her as the resident skank. Rather than deny it to the teeth, she takes her new found bad girl rep and runs with it by letting the most desperate of social outcasts shower her with gift cards in return for sexual bragging rights and subsequent popularity despite their virginity remaining intact. As one can imagine, this poorly thought-out plan soon starts to backfire and our girl finds herself scrambling to clear her good name and undo the damage that tends to come with pretending you’re all loosie goosie and such.

So it’s a modern-day re-telling of sorts of The Scarlet Letter – aka: that effing book that everyone had to read in High School and in turn introduced us to the wonders of Cliffs Notes after coming to the realization that we just read the same paragraph thirty times before we could even hit chapter two (or maybe that was just me). Yeah, not the biggest fan of that puppy and it wasn’t until I could no longer ignore the tidal wave of praise this got around the blogosphere that I stopped writing it off as this year’s mandatory girlie tween comedy. And if that 8 up there hasn’t given it away yet, this is exactly why it pays to see movies despite your preconceptions.

It’s the debut directorial effort by one Will Gluck, it’s the debut script by writer Bert V. Royal, and I don’t know where the hell these guys came from, but The Scarlet Letter has never been this entertaining. Well, Gluck actually does a fine job behind the camera and I dug the moments where he’d zoom around the High School campus (which looks to be roughly the size of Utah) from clique to clique whenever a new rumor started to spread, but Royal’s the one worth writing to grandma about. Folks, this script is right up there with Mean Girls when it comes to the best-written teen comedies of the past decade. Yeah, a lot of this would probably never happen in real life, but you go with it because it’s so damn funny, because it’s working in the vein of movies like Say Anything and Sixteen Candles, and it lets the cast have a freakin’ ball with their lines.

I just love how self-aware, contemporary and true-to-life it is. Whether it’s a teacher going off on how he doesn’t understand why someone would post a status update on Facebook about how they raised the roof after buying a Coke Zero at a gas station, or even our girl telling us to watch the original black-and-white version of The Scarlet Letter instead of the Demi Moore-nude-in-a-bathtub remake if we’re not gonna read the book, all of it’s hilarious and it’s got a nice little (if obvious) moral to boot. It’s still a far cry from my days in High School, but

And, yeah, the cast rocks.

Thomas Haden Church is great as that teacher who can’t wrap his head around status updates (why isn’t he in more stuff?); Lisa Kudrow ain’t bad in her unusually bitchy role as the school guidance counselor; a pre-retirement Amanda Bynes is good as the said God Squader who triggers all this drama to begin with; Fred Armisen is a priest; and there’s a handful of other kids who I think I recognize from the CW or Twilight or some shit who are all pretty good, too. I gotta say though, Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson nearly steal the show as the nicest and funniest parents on the planet. God, what can’t Stanley Tucci do? He’s always been out of sight as a serious actor, but the guy had me flat-out howling with choice lines about making sure to check “Watching The Bucket List” off his Bucket List during family movie night along with asking his adopted black son, “So where are you from originally?” Pretty atypical roles for these two, but they are somehow perfect.

But this right here is Emma Stone’s show in a big ol’ way. Only know her from Superbad and Zombieland, but those were awesome, she was darn solid in both of ’em, and she’s even more awesome as our 21st Century Hester Prynne, Olive. From the moment we watch her spend an entire weekend slowly obsessing over Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocket Full of Sunshine” while painting her dog’s toenails and giving herself a mohawk in the shower, you can’t help but love the gal. Stone just does a stellar job of making Olive feel like a real teenage girl with a great sense of humor, a brain and a heart. Olive’s a blast to hang out with and it’s ’cause of Stone that she ends up being one of the most memorable female performances of the year.

Girl, you earned that spot as Gwen Stacy.

The only bummer here is that there are so many characters going on at once that they tend to show up for five minutes, play an integral part to the story, then disappear indefinitely, only reappearing for some choice silent cameos that usually involve sulking or squinting angrily. They all serve their purpose and there’s not a character of the bunch that isn’t fun to watch, but it would have been nice if it didn’t jump around so much and just gave us more Church, Tucci and Stone instead.

And Kudrow’s character is totally absurd. I’m sure there are some shitty counselors out there, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find one whose idea of “guidance” boils down to throwing a handful of condoms at a student and telling them to skedaddle. What a bitch, Phoebe would never pull that crap.

Judging by the impression I got from all the ho-hum trailers that ran for this over the Summer, I never thought I’d be writing about how Easy A is actually kind of great, but it absolutely is and it’s one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve sat through in quite a while. Can’t wait to see more from everyone involved in this movie, it had me smiling and laughing like crazy the whole damn time, and if more teen comedies were this good, I’d gladly spend the money to support ’em.

John Hughes would be proud.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2011 8:36 am

    yeah looks good, must get round to it. Amanda Bynes… never made a bad film. Stanley Tucci’s use of the f-bomb in Julie and Julia is one of the most uplifting things ive seen in a film in a long time – hes great. ‘V-card’…? never heard that one. and i enjoyed Scarlett Letter in school – good book.

    • January 5, 2011 10:59 am

      hahaha. i forgot about that Amanda Bynes credo of yours, can’t argue with it. And right there with ya’ on Tucci’s F-bomb, that was so great and he is one of the best out there imho. Never heard of V-card? All the kids are saying it these days. And I guess I need to revisit that book now that I actually enjoy reading. Seems only fair.

  2. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    January 5, 2011 10:40 am

    i watched this a while back and have been meaning to write a review, so i’ll wait and read yours after i write mine, but i know it won’t be getting an 8/10. I didn’t like it that much. the adult characters were interesting, but the younger characters were just dumb stereotypes. and it really wasn’t all that funny…

    • January 5, 2011 11:03 am

      bummer, man. i don’t know what it was but i was laughing along with everything, younger and older characters. i felt like the stereotypes were somewhat intentional since it referenced all those classic ’80s teen comedies. but all the same, sorry to hear it was a disappointment. didn’t expect to like it as much as i did, could be a fluke.

      • nothatwasacompliment permalink
        January 6, 2011 10:06 am

        okay, i’ve gone back and read your whole review, and at least we can agree that Tucci and Clarkson were awesome. 🙂

        they had all the best lines. like when the adopted kid says he got a b+ on his spelling test and Clarkson responds with “that’s good, honey, but everything has spell check these days.”

      • January 6, 2011 12:48 pm

        hahaha. totally had the best lines and that was one of many winners. a fine common ground to meet upon.

  3. January 5, 2011 5:55 pm

    A good surprise indeed. I enjoyed it although I didn’t think it was anywhere close to a classic such as Mean Girls which was more witty and funny. Emma Stone does come through in a big way so it will be interesting see if she can play other characters than the sassy offbeat young lady.

    • January 5, 2011 7:03 pm

      Yeah, Mean Girls is kind of in a league of its own, but I was awfully impressed by this. I think Emma Stone’s gonna continue to kick ass, at least I hope so. Just hope she doesn’t get pigeonholed.

  4. January 5, 2011 6:07 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about this, and I’m a sucker for high school comedy so I’ve been circling around checking it out for a while.

  5. January 6, 2011 11:49 am

    Enjoyed it but I don’t think it was _that_ good. I guess coming out in a year gravely lacking in anything remotely funny speaks for it self. Stone was charming though.

  6. January 6, 2011 1:44 pm

    You called it Aiden, John Hughes would be proud. This had all the makings to be utter crap but it turned out so enjoyable and near genuinely heartfelt. Love the banter between Clarkson and Tucci who epitomize hippie (even best friend) parenting but it came across endearing.

    Plus Stone is so damned adorable:)

  7. January 7, 2011 1:00 am

    I was surprised by this film as well. It turned out to be my favorite comedy of the year and easily the biggest surprise. It’s smartly written and Emma Stone makes it all work fantastically. I like the self-awareness but after a while it becomes a bit too much. But that’s a minor blemish on a fantastic film.

    • January 7, 2011 9:40 am

      James, we’ve been on a roll with agreeing about movies lately. Hell to the yeah! But I totally agree with ya’, this was a total surprise and a great time to boot for all the reasons you pointed out. Do you have any idea what movie they were referring to with the lawnmower scene though? That was news to me.

      • January 12, 2011 7:28 pm

        Yea, we’ve been in unison for a while now and it’s still going! I’m not sharp on my ’80s teen romances, but given my love of “Say Anything…” (which was referenced in the movie) it should probably check more out. A quick google search says that it’s “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

      • January 13, 2011 12:27 pm

        Haha, I’m all for it, man! And as for Say Anything…, that might be the best ’80s teen rom-com there is (unless you count The Breakfast Club, then it’s #2). And never even heard of Can’t Buy Me Love, guess I should have been born a decade earlier or something.

  8. January 7, 2011 11:14 am

    Completely agree about the poor amount of screen-time for most characters, and completely disagree about the whole “John Hughes would be proud” thing. But that’s just me. Loving your reviews lately!

    • January 7, 2011 11:20 am

      hahahaha. one out of two aint’ bad. and thanks! your 2001 review recently inspired me to read the book and i’ll be watching the movie again next week for the first time in, oh, a decade and change. will report back and keep on truckin’ yourself!

  9. January 8, 2011 5:55 pm

    I’m beginning to like Emma Stone. Hubba-hubba!

  10. January 8, 2011 8:26 pm

    What do you think I have down there — a gnome?

  11. February 11, 2011 11:11 am

    Pre-retirement Amanda Bynes, haha. I heard she’s back from retirement already.
    Loved this film, so many great characters and actors. Clarkson and Tucci are the couple of the year, man. And yeah, why can’t we get more of Haden Church?! Emma Stone’s character is one of the greater characters of this year, I think, and I love how she’s not scared of looking silly.

    • February 14, 2011 1:11 pm

      Lol. Yeah, that claim didn’t stand for long. Totally agree about Clarkson, Tucci and Church, it’s about damn time they started getting their due. And I’m just nuts about Emma Stone after this, girl honestly should have got an Oscar nod.

      http://ctcmr.com http://ctcvgr.com

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