“Easy A” loosely based on the “Scarlet Letter” is none of the above.
Witty, smart, mature, funny and with a sassy sharp tongued but vulnerable lead, all wrapped up in a package that will be as acceptable to the target audience as it will their parents. Believable teen dialogue, peppered with the judicious use of made up words, representing references that might not have got past the censors, this is a good as it gets for teen comedy.
Emma Stone is Olive, the daughter of a family all named after edibles, Dill (Tucci), Rosemary (Clarkson) and their adopted son Chip (Jenkins). Olive is anonymous at school, not disliked nor bullied just non existent to those around her.
One easy lie to her BFF, Rhiannon (Michalka) and suddenly her star is rising due to the dubious honour of losing her “Vcard” to a mysterious and entirely imaginary lover. The school rumour mill does the rest and before you can say “Scarlet Woman”, she is unknown no more.
The local deeply religious school Christian group, headed by the prissy Marianne (Amanda Byrnes) provides a neat foil to all the wickedness, although the group has it’s own issues in the form of one of the flock, Mica (Bigandet), straying onto forbidden pastures.
Rather than tamping down her notoriety, Olive then proceeds to assist struggling Gay classmate, Brandon (Byrd), to prove his “straightness”. This is achieved by indulging in very loud and public pretend sex at a party, actually achieved by jumping on the bed and punching Brandon to produce the required climactic sound effect.
Following this piece of showmanship, students are queuing to pay Olive to create all sorts of elaborate sexual falsifications to enhance their standing in the school. Initially fun, Olive soon realises that she has created a monster, which begins to hurt those around her. Olive relies on her family, beautifully and wittily played by Clarkson and Tucci, to pull her through.
Does everything turn out all right, of course, this is after all a teen comedy.
As the principal says, “This is public school. If I can keep the girls off the pole and the boys off the pipe, I get a bonus.”
In other hands, this story might have careered out of control and descended into teen comedy hell. Director Will Gluck and writer Bert V Royal must take credit for turning their back on crude stereotypes and crafting a tale that has comedy, emotional heft and believability. The presence of the supporting cast, including Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDonnell and Thomas Haden Church, all testify to the simple fact, that good writing attracts talented actors.
With many references to 80’s John Hughes comedies, this harks back to simpler times when comedies could be just that, without resorting to anatomical jokes every two minutes. The film does not shy away from harder edges and truths. Ultimately you are responsible for your actions and how it affects others but somehow Stone makes it all work without the film preaching to it’s audience, she is definitely one to watch.
A funny yet touching teen comedy that takes all of the best parts of 80’s comedies and presents them in a new 2010 setting, complete with a likeable lead, ably supported by great character actors.