Stones Gives a Little A
During the 80s John Hughes was the man for making teen movies, he was able to take teenage troubles and have fun with them whilst also connecting with the audience on a deeper level, allowing those going through the issues he made light of not to feel alone. It's been a long time since we've had a movie which has come close to what John Hughes was able to achieve but in "Easy A" we have just such a movie. At its heart it is a comedy about the predicament which Olive finds herself in when rumours about her losing her virginity quickly spread. But their is something smart about it as writer Bert V. Royal and director Will Gluck manage to embellish a typical teenage situation to make not only young audiences connect with what happens but also older audiences as they can reminisce to their own teenage troubles and issues with sex. It is simply the closest cinema has got to the likes of "Pretty in Pink" and "Sixteen Candles" in many years and even manages to pay homage to John Hughes and teenage movies from the 80s.
Olive (Emma Stone - Zombieland) is just your typical high school student that is until she tells a little lie to her best friend Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) about losing her virginity and before she knows it she is the school tart as rumours fly around. Enjoying the attention that her notoriety brings she agrees to help out her gay friend Brandon (Dan Byrd - The Hills Have Eyes) and perpetuates a lie that they slept together. Before long she becomes the go to person for all those school misfits who want some street cred, paying her to tell lies about sleeping with them. But the longer it goes on the messier it gets especially with the schools religious student Marianne (Amanda Bynes - She's the Man) determined to make her life a misery.
One of the strength's of "Easy A" is that despite the embellishments and amusing situations it is grounded in reality as we watch Olive bow to peer pressure and basically lie about losing her virginity. And that is not the only element which is grounded in reality as a student fancying their teacher is not that unusual either. It makes it so easy to relate to, to empathise with Olive whether you are a teenager now or watching "Easy A" and reminiscing back to your own teenage years where playground gossip often revolved around someone supposedly doing it.
But then like any good modern teen comedy this real situation is expanded on so that it becomes funny and so we have Olive providing this faux service, pretending to have done it with people to help their street cred. It is amusing and whilst you know it's going to eventually spiral out of control and become too much you can't but help enjoy they way that Olive goes from good girl to, well to supposedly the school bike. And this evolves nicely to the point where eventually Olive has to deal with things and does so in a wonderfully amusing homage to John Hughes with a musical number at a School Pep Rally.
All of this is smart from they way we are brought into this situation via Olive giving a web broadcast, something which makes sense come the end of the movie, through to the snappy dialogue which Olive has from dealing with the religious students to her conversations with English teacher, but at times it occasionally feels like it's trying to hard. Whilst it is amusing that Olive has a very open and sarcastic relationship with her parents, the fact that she is studying "The Scarlett Letter" in class feels a bit too manufactured although you have to love how she rips into the Demi Moore movie of the book. It's basically a mixed bag as for every great comical embellishments there is often one which doesn't work and the way it drags in a romantic cliche may allow for another homage to 80s movies still feels a little wrong.
Whilst all of this is clever and the writing is for the most spot on the main reason why this all comes together is because of Emma Stone. She not only makes for a very likeable lead character but a smart one as well with a great sense of sarcasm, sarcasm such as the way she talks to her parents and they to her. Talking of which Stanley Tucci steals almost every scene he is in as Olive's dad because he simply so funny in his easy going way as is Patricia Clarkson who is just as much fun as Olive's mum. In fact whilst a couple of characters may feel wrong there really isn't a bad performance be it the irony of Thomas Haden Church playing English teacher Mr. Griffith or Amanda Bynes who is a walking cliche as the overly religious Marianne but so funny with it.
What this all boils down to is that "Easy A" is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the teen movie genre because it is smart and funny, taking a very teenage turmoil and having loads of fun with it whilst still allowing young audiences to feel not alone in their troubles. It is the closest that modern cinema has got to a John Hughes 80s movies in years and does a nice job of paying homage to the genius. And whilst most certainly a movie made for modern audiences it doesn't alienate the older generation with its sense of 80s nostalgia about it.