For a movie so grounded in insight, “Easy A” sure strays quite far from reality.
That is not to say the movie is not incredible fun, though. In fact, it is wonderfully witty through and through. Yet, its direct disregard of reality definitely damages one’s overall enjoyment of what is otherwise an unusually poignant teen comedy.
Emma Stone stars as Olive Penderghast, a high school girl who invents a tall tale about losing her virginity to her college-aged boyfriend. Though said boyfriend does not exist, the story spreads across campus like wildfire and Olive quickly earns the reputation of a – and this is the movie’s word, not mine – “skank.”
And Olive loves the attention – even if it is the negative variety. So, when gay pal Brandon (Dan Byrd) asks Olive to fake a quickie with him at a party in an effort to get bullies off his back, of course she agrees. This only exacerbates the rumors and prompts more outcasts to request fake favors in exchange for money (or gift cards, to be exact).
To make matters worse, Christian classmate Marianne Bryant (Amanda Bynes) leads a campuswide charge against Olive. But, having recently studied Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” Olive only embraces her bad reputation by dressing the part right down to the red “A.”
Naturally, things spiral out of control – both for Olive and the audience. At about the time Olive performs a burlesque-like version of “Knock on Wood” for the entire school, it becomes easy to dismiss “Easy A’s” positive attributes. Granted, acceptable attire has changed since I graduated from high school but this is a bit much.
And then there is a plot-point involving Lisa Kudrow that takes “Easy A” to a much more serious place than it has right to go. It is a surprise that seems completely out of place in such a light and whimsical flick such as this. Sure, it could be worse, but it is also extremely unnecessary.
Still, “Easy A” is a lot of fun and, for that, it deserves many kudos. Moreover, its humor comes from a place of deep sincerity, a quality that is best exhibited in any scene Stone shares with Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci, her on-screen parents. It is rare to find a teen comedy with this much intellect.
Credit goes to Bert V. Royal for his exceptionally sharp screenplay and director Will Gluck’s timing is truly impecible but the spectacular acting is equally significant to “Easy A’s” success. Most meaningful of all, Stone proves that she is one of the most charismatic actresses of her generation.
In the end, Royal and Gluck simply needed to choose between over-the-top antics or grounded-in-reality logic and stick with it. They excel at both but the result of mixing them is a bit disillusioning. So, yes, “Easy A” may not be an easy “A” after all, but it comes pretty darn close.
“Easy A” (PG-13 – 92 minutes) is now playing at movie theaters throughout the Valley. Visit NCM.com for specific showtimes and locations.